Looking Around The Central California Coast


I was out to California last week and spent a couple of days over at my mother’s place in the little quiet town of Los Osos/Baywood Park. It is just a short jaunt to Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo from her house. I finished the trip with a drive down the coast to my daughter’s home in Camarillo. That was nice, I spent time with all three grandchildren and was able to see the baby bump of my great-grandson tucked away in the womb – can’t hardly wait for February!

Mom had a list of about 12 items she needed some help with and I worked my way through the list. Some items involved technology issues, i.e., resetting the phone date & time, drafting instructions for printing photos from her computer, scanning and making copies – the stuff that an 83 year old wants to do but this tech stuff is still mystifying….as she says, “Kinda like magic!” I was able to get my hands dirty with repotting some of her succulents and moving the heavier pots around the place. I am so envious of the growing environment she is blessed with. Mom is doing very well and is back to running the Tai Chi class for about 14-16 women in her development 3 days per week. She is a pretty perky old gal and sharp as a tack. During her nap time  I got to wander out and take a few photos.

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California – Fruit Basket and Nut Case

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I mean that in the nicest way. I am in the Golden State for a bit of work and then off to the coast to visit my Mom. Her to-do list has grown to two pages. I am keeping with the gardening theme as several tasks deal with re-potting and replanting! I get spoiled on my California visits….you can find a twig, stick into the soil, add water and it will grow.

Oh, there are some draw backs – this is the time of the year in and around Bakersfield when they are defoliating the cotton and the shakers are knocking the dust and almonds off the trees. The air is thick. I have also noticed that there is a familiar strong scent all over town. I grew up a little south of town near Larson’s dairy. This familiar scent reminds me of time spent across the road around the dairy….There is an earthy component in my Larson’s dairy memories but I am afraid that the proliferation of the mega dairies that have invaded the Kern County landscape have permeated the south end of the San Joaquin Valley with a scent that has gone beyond the earthy farm scent it is an odor…..it has begun to stink!

Shift gears – the good things are abundant….I drove over to Mom’s place through the Cuyama River Valley – truck loads of carrots were heading down to the processing facilities in and around Bakersfield – I passed through probably 10’s of thousand of acres of carrot fields….many just harvested and others dense with lush tops crowded into little green furry hedges. Melons lying in the fields leftover from the recent harvest, thousands of burlap sacks bulging with harvested onions waiting for the trucks to roll through. Sprinklers shooting the high arching streams of water irrigating the fields spreading across the valley floor in a seemingly endless vista. And yes, the big guys are here too – Grimway Farms and William H. Bolthouse – in the next week or two look at the label on a carrot bag…..I just drove by what you are eating now! (US based readers and maybe Canada too).

Los Osos, the bears in Spanish, is where Mom now makes here home….the cooler weather is home to the lettuce, cabbage, parsley and flower growers….I will try to shoot some photos today or tomorrow for another post….Pumpkins both large and small are peeking through the dying vines in the fields now…..beautiful, dark black rich soils contrasting  with the greens, yellowing leaves and bright orange of the pumpkins! Should have stopped then but I was on a timeline to catch a sunset!

Looking across the bay in Baywood adjoining Los Osos.


Lovely evening….I was one of dozens at water’s edge watching the sun put on it’s evening show – free of charge!






Global Warming? Yes it Is, But ……..


My position will probably ruffle the feathers of the “Greenpeace crowd, the Liberals and the politicians needing another lever to generate tax revenue. That said, I agree that the earth is warming. That is a fact but in the history of the earth this is not unique. What we need to do, to better understand the issue, is to step back and look back beyond this dot on the earth’s history timeline called the present. The earth is actually warming on a long-term cooling trend that will fluctuate over periods of time, periods that are much, much longer than a generation or two. Take a look at the graph below.

The trend is toward the cooler side…what is interesting is the increasing variability in the swings!

This figure shows the climate record of Lisiecki and Raymo (2005) [1] constructed by combining measurements from 57 globally distributed deep-sea sediment cores. The measured quantity is oxygen isotope fractionation ([[δ18O]]) in benthic foraminifera, which serves as a proxy for the total global mass of glacial ice sheets.

It is like the old adage….what goes up must come down. There is nothing in the scientific record that indicates that this period of warming will go on forever. It shows a historical pattern of warming and cooling with an overall trend to the cooler side. Has man added to the CO2 load, you bet we have.  Has the earth responded to those past swings, yes it has.  What’s next…..rising sea levels – most likely. Changes in weather patterns – yes again. Has it happened before, yes it has – only this time with far-reaching disruption to our way of life in the coastal regions.

I remember a geology field trip in California where we counted 7 wave cut terraces going many hundreds of feet up a mountain side. Those terraces are a product of both mountain building and changes in sea levels….it is complex, just as the current debate over the same set of climate facts.  Can our actions really stop and reverse this trend….. don’t kid yourself. What we can do and should be doing is conserving our natural resources…..conservation is the right thing to do but it will not reverse the trend. We should be preparing for the future and not playing Chicken Little – the sky is falling!

Here is a very likely scenario for the northern hemisphere ….. the melting of the northern ice cap will raise the sea level, how much – don’t know, probably many feet, a few meters. What may be of bigger concern is the impact on the Gulf Stream current bringing warm Atlantic water north and allowing the comfortable climate currently in place in the UK. Get your heavy coats out….it may be a number of generations out, but it will become much colder when that warm current is disrupted… then some thousands of years later it will warm up again….. then repeat….. and repeat……

Conservation of finite resources should always be a concern for the inhabitants of planet earth. Climate control by carbon tax is, to use a crude Texas term, like “pissing into the wind”. Our efforts would be better spent getting a head start on the outcome side of this current trend, key word – trend. I use the word trend because it will swing the other way…….way beyond my time on earth but my progeny will be dealing with the issues….either well thought out and planned for or smelling like urine soaked pants, pants worn by “chicken little”!

A little longer look at the historical record….yes the data is inferred, not directly measured,…..but there is agreement in general on the overall  trends.

This is a bit like a log graph….at the far right is a 10,000 year segment, to the left of it is a 500,000 year segment then a 5 million year segment and so on. The present trend is up…historically it is ALWAYS followed by a swing in the other direction.

Rob Rohde’s palaeotemperature graphs pasted together on one page, with Royer et al.s CO2-corrected PaleozoicMesozoic record substituted for Veizer et al.s uncorrected record.

The Vostok and Lisiecki/Zachos temperatures are polar, not global, so the range has been compressed to compensate – by about the usual one-half. The relativities are very approximate.

Oh by the way, could there be some benefits to warming???? The increase in temperature leads to more water vapor which adds to global warming – but clouds from the increase in water vapor reflect heat and then will cool the earth…. a feedback loop. The earth’s climate has always been in a state of flux. We can choose to respond in a planned and logical manner or we can scream in fear over something we have little, if any control over. This link should demonstrate that as CO2 goes up, my tomatoes should do better!


The more I read the more I realize how complex the issue is. There is evidence that the phytoplankton are increasing – a photosynthetic organism that pulls CO2 out of the oceans – on the other hand, massive deforestation reduces terrestrial CO2 sequestering opportunities. I believe that the earth’s feedback loop will kick in and the swing in to other direction will happen. I worry about the ineffective efforts to stop climate change and how little is being done to prepare for the impacts of rising sea levels…

For more reading;

NASA website – great current data – what strikes me is the melting ice data and the sea level rise data –  we should be preparing to address these impacts!


I am a firm believer in conserving finite natural resources – I believe we should do more to develop wind and solar power – I believe in a balanced approach and an orderly plan for the future based on civil dialog and a realistic view of the future. Some of the green solutions are shot down by the concerned citizens with the “not in my backyard” approach. The government has hamstrung many potential green projects due the complex and costly permitting processes.  Lets all do our part, recognize that the future will look different from it does today – but just wait  – the trend will reverse. Deal with the real pending problems and prepare. The time horizons are probably long enough to deal with the low elevation coastal populations and infrastructure issues. We should always be looking for a return on our investments. Carbon trading benefits only those that know how to game the system. Invest in our future, plan and prepare.

Ok…it is off my chest. Let the debate rage…



Garden Discovery

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Look what I found! I was looking in under the huge asparagus ferns with sweet potato vines tangled up underneath them. I had tossed, literally tossed two sad old sweet potatoes out into the asparagus bed this past spring. The vines went wild. This huge sweet potato was poking up through the leaves…. I am anxious to see how many more have developed….. Need to wait another month so look for an update in 30 days.


Photo taken with my iPhone

I just updated the posting. I grew what looks to be the Beauregard  variety… As well as it did I may try the bush variety shown below for next year and save some room. The vines were/are a real jungle in my garden.

Suggested Varieties:

  • Beauregard – Pale reddish skin with dark orange flesh.  Popular commercial variety.  (100 days)
  • Bush Porto Rico – Cooper skin with orange flesh.  Compact vines with big yields.  Good for smaller gardens,  (110 days)
  • Centennial – Good disease resistance and relatively quick maturing.  (90-100 days)
  • Georgia Jet – Reddish skin with orange flesh.  Good choice for shorter season.  (90 days)
  • Patriot – Copper skin/Orange Flesh.  Great pest resistance.  Good choice for organic gardens.  (100 days)
  • Ruddy – Better pest resistance (insects, diseases and nematodes) than Beauregard.  See photo. (100 days)

Nature – Strong, Resilient and Inspiring


This past summer we (my wife, son and his girlfriend), spent most of two weeks wandering through Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee (very brief), Mississippi and Louisiana. Hurricane Isaac made it’s way through a portion of our trip’s route, most impactfully through the Mississippi and Louisiana portions of the trip. I will start with some thoughts about the three days we spent in Biloxi, MS.

In 2008 Kathy and I drove the coastal road front the Gulf in Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Christian and Bay St. Louis. The devastation from Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005, was abundant and still fresh. Life moves on and the resilient spirit of the people is amazing. We passed through and encountered a Mardi Gras parade, people laughing, celebrating and moving forward – with piles of Katrina debris a few blocks behind them.

Summer of 2012, the empty beach lots across the highway from the Gulf of Mexico waters is a grim reminder of the past. I am also amazed that these empty lots are not totally empty. These lots are home to massive, gnarled and stately oaks that seem to reflect on the human spirit of the region. I would like to share with you the strength of the people embodied in these wonderful oak trees.

The gnarly oak again – I can only imagine what wonderful bowls could be turned from the knotty burls on this tree! It can wait!

Swinging on the long horizontal branch.

Gnarly oak….Joe and Leah standing in the crotch of the tree.

The ring in the oak – an old Indian legend is tied to this tree…

Life goes on in the Gulf, the trees survive, the people thrive and the cycle continues.

An oak shading a rebuilt guest house at the site of the Jefferson Davis house.

Looking east from the Jefferson Davis house – a large oak and the lonely chimney that remains standing after Katrina.

The flag pole bent over from Hurricane Camille – 1969 – one of the most powerful hurricanes to make landfall in the US. A grim reminder of life on the Gulf.

A tribute to the strength of the people and the oaks that reflect that strength, our thoughts and prayers are with you.












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