The Madonna Inn, Cayucos, and the Central California Coast


On the Way to Cayucos you can stop at the very famous Madonna Inn for dinner and dancing. Hurry and experience this passing phenomenon. There are fewer and fewer of these events left and as the years, the musicians and participants pass, they may soon be non-existent.  It is so much fun to dance as well as watch some of the experts. The food is good and plentiful.


When the eating and dancing part of the evening was over and we continued on to our digs at the Pier View Suites in Cayucos. Our suites had lovely views of the Central Coast of California and within view was the lovely and famous Cayucos Pier. The Pier View Plaza has facilities to satisfy all of your needs, plus two wonderful antique stores flank the plaza.  Don’t miss a treat at the Cookie Factory and visit the Candy and Ice Cream store. The soup on the pier is wonderful.

There was the annual Flea Market going on at the end of the road. Oh heavenly days, I do love a flea market where you can peruse and own goodies of the past and present to your hearts content. You can finally find and buy what you have always desired, plus own something you never thought of in your life. That’s the fun.

Since Cayucos is between San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and further north Cambria and San Simeon, you have a lot of sight seeing choices with your main base Cayucos in the middle. Don’t ask me about the food in Cayucos because I don’t really don’t know how to answer that, but I will tell you, at one restaurant in particular, several of us asked for an extra empty plate which they were only too happy to bring, to the tune of $1.50 per plate. It IS on the menu in teeny tiny print that you will be charged for an extra (empty) plate. I should not reveal the name of the restaurant, but it is called by my father’s name.

I highly recommend you explore the Central Coast of California. The weather is mild, the sunsets are legendary, birds dive straight down into the sea to dine, people are friendly, the scenery is breath taking as it shows off the most majestic coastline in the world. California’s Central Coast has developed into a world-class wine tasting region, and you will see that there is a hope for our future that resides in these environs.


Visit the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California: March 1 – May 12, 2013


When your eyes become acclimated to the hills awash with brilliant flower colors, you come back down to earth and realize this is heaven on earth. It is what I envision heaven to be.  As soon as I earn the two points I am short upon arrival, Saint Peter opens the opaque gates and flowers, flowers, flowers is the first impression and then it goes on from there.  This is not a lesson on heaven, Saint Peter or the pearly gates; it is just a sharing of joy and an invitation for you to enjoy the Carlsbad Flower Fields @ 5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA.  The only kink unfortunately is for you to be prepared to stand in a long line to pay your admission fee. You would think on such busy days they would have more than one-person selling tickets.

Look! You are greeted and kindly asked to enjoy the fields.


If you were aware and fortunate enough back when these homes were being built you would be able to enjoy this view all spring and early summer. What a backyard bonus.


The fields are planted several weeks apart to insure months of flower productivity and viewing.

The lady in the next photograph was posing for another photographer and I joined in. She was so down in and among the flora, I envied her. I think there may be something illegal about posting her photo, so if this is you and you are opposed this posting, let me know, and I will immediately remove your photo from this post, but in the meantime, let us enjoy your loveliness, your enjoyment and endorsement of the flower fields.


Visitors were walking around smiling and full delight was the order of the day.




You still have time to enjoy the flowers and if you miss them this year, plan for a visit next year.

Olvera Street and the Hidden Treasure of the Avila Adobe.

This Pueblo was named after the first judge in Los Angeles, Judge Augustine Olvera in 1877. The street leading into the Pueblo was closed to vehicles in 1930 and became our Olvera Street or Calle Olvera. This beautiful little gem has been a place most Angelinos have enjoyed from childhood on up into their senior years.  They were taken to visit when they were children, and therefore, took their children and now their children are taking their children and so on. All of us living in the vicinity of Olvera Street became immersed in the tradition. Many of us make this our number one location to visit when we have out of town guests.  It is a bang and blast of color, drama, culture, food, fiestas, celebrations, performances, artists, history and a special community historically and culturally connected to Los Angeles.


I must tell you, I have visited plus taken family, friends and guests to Olvera Street for many years but on the most recent visit a new treasure opened up to me.  It is called Avila Adobe. It is just steps off the street, but all of the previous times visiting Olvera Street, I have been blinded by the street’s explosion of color, goods, action and food, so I missed its presence.

This time visiting Olvera Street with our out of the country guests found us in the courtyard of the Avila Adobe.  The signage states that this Adobe is the oldest building still standing in Los Angeles. I want to believe it.  In any case, it is a beautiful historical and cultural monument.  Come inside and see some of the rooms where a few restorations have been done in keeping with the original home. It is understood that most of the original furniture came from other countries given to Avila in trade.

You can see from the small collection of photos included here, the inside the Avila Adobe gives off an aura of fresh peacefulness. Even though the day was uncomfortably warm outside in the courtyard, the moment you entered the Adobe, an omniscient presence and an encouraging calm atmosphere appeared to envelop you. A somber softness fell upon the rooms; an old lingering mellow and calm richness gradually takes over your being there. It feels like people are still living here and while viewing some rooms you feel the remnants of people who are still going about their daily lives.  If you find yourself on Olvera Street, don’t leave without stopping and visiting the interior of the historical Avila Adobe Museum.

As you leave the Adobe, you exit onto Olvera Street.

The Cross and the Glitter in the White Dove’s Eye

I keep telling myself how lucky I was yesterday coming home on the 101 Freeway from West Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley on a designated stretch leading to home.  I was gazing up and noticed that tiny wisps of clouds that had formed a perfect cross. The cross crowning the top was at the perfect distance up from the middle, the way all crosses displayed are drawn.  I was marveling at the sight in the afternoon sky and wondering how many others in our vicinity were seeing this spiritual spectacle. Off to the side of the car speeding along with us was a white dove.   I know you think I am making this up for a good story, well, you are wrong.  You say it could have been a seagull, they are white, but we were traveling so far inland I doubt it.  When I got home, I sat down to ponder this event, thinking to myself, this is truly a special sign and it was there for anyone driving by that spot. Or, was I the only one picked out to be the teller?

This insightful event is an eternal element needing no translation, but just in case, it may be a resolve, a magic charm, a blending of spirits, good luck, the truth set before me for contemplation, a message of peace, love, purity or a just a special unrelated delight to behold.

Before the cross and the white dove sighting, I had a brush with the devil’s javelin. It pierced me through the heart and shattered  something gnawing inside that I have been dealing with for years.  I don’t exactly know what it was, but now it is  crushed into little pieces and blown away by the wind. Now that I have witnessed the healing light, the cross bearing news of God’s force, and the will to feel free given swiftly in the glitter of the white dove’s eye, I have been blessed.

A short while before the cross and dove sighting, I met a lovely lady, rather angelic, now that I remember her.  She said, “Hello.”

I said, “Hello, are you having fun?”

She said, “Tons of it, how about you?”

I said, “Well, by the end of the day perhaps tons of it.”

She said, “ Let me tell you what my mother used to say,

‘If you are having a bad day, just think of not having one.’”


Come and Enjoy Orcutt Ranch and Horticultural Center

Orcutt Ranch and Horticultural Center: Open daily from Sunrise to Sunset.

This property is a most wonderful respite quietly sequestered at 23600 Roscoe Blvd. in West Hills, California is a retreat from the teeming urban environment most of us find in our daily lives.

I am not an official recruiter for Orcutt Ranch, but I do recommend you spend some time there.  It is not a big investment of time for a huge return from nature and ancient fauna and flora.

Admission to this historic 25-acre Orcutt Ranch and residence is free and isn’t that a lovely courtesy?

Orcutt Ranch was formally called: Rancho Sombra del Roble, which means, “Ranch in the shade of the oak.” If you park your car in the parking area and begin your walk of the grounds, you will fill your senses with trees, some 600 – 900 years old; you will encounter community gardens, citrus orchards, an old Spanish style home, an old well maintained barn, beautiful rose gardens, and an especially wonderful moment is to stand in and amongst the bamboo forest. If the wind is up the sounds of the bamboo forest take on orchestral tones. Consider having your wedding or special event at Routt Ranch.

If you come to Orcutt Ranch in July you are encouraged to pick ripe Valencia oranges and white grapefruit. A slight charge will be incurred.  This is a secret. If you stand under an orange or grapefruit tree in the orchards, soon a ripe fruit will fall very close to you. No one is looking. Peel it and bite;  juice rolls down your chin and your eyes roll back with the sensations of such a pleasurable taste treat. How can you be charged for a gift the tree has dropped into your path?

There are plots of land to the side of the ranch that can and are rented for $120 per year. Many renters grow vegetables year round in the ranch’s community gardens.

Since I am in no way connected to Orcutt Ranch I am free to tell you the lessons I learned from my visits to this lovely hideaway.

First, there are lessons from the trees. If they could speak you say, what would they say?  If you listen you will hear six and nine hundred year old truths that sound as modern as today. They will tell you, “Let nature take its course.” They will tell you to become more and more adaptable and mutable. Figure out a way to survive. They will say, “Age breaks down structure.” It poses pulls of gravity and may need some holding up with braces and wires to hold parts into their places.

And then, you witness the gnarls of time, a sight you see in all walks of life on the planet. Our bodies as we age need lots of tweaks, touch ups, grips, clutches and embraces. The lessons include resilience of time. We do not have as much time to learn these lessons, as do the trees, so we must preserver and survive during the time we are permitted. Ancient plant life shows sustenance from the earth and the process, which keeps all living things alive for a prescribed parenthesis in time.  If you try and alter the time lapse, I think that would negate the lessons. Altering nature gets into Biotechnology, which takes more time to study and discuss.

Secondly, there are lessons in history on this ranch. Time has moved along and if we preserve the past we will more fully enjoy going back in time for whatever time we have allotted.  Historical visits rejuvenate and elevate our consciousness.

Visiting Orcutt Ranch and the lessons you learn will be different, from mine, but no less rewarding. They will enhance the time spent at the ranch and will make your day! Each time you visit you will learn new lessons and leave with a newly formed enlightenment.

A Day Trip to Visit Rankin Ranch

It is springtime at the Rankin Ranch and we were invited to have a first hand glimpse of the blooming lilacs and the lush green hillsides. Our family especially enjoyed the ride up through the Greenhorn Mountains east of Bakersfield as we made our way to the ranch.  Mountain roads are always a treat to “city slickers” and hillsides that have been coated green by recent rains are a particular delight. As you travel onward and upward you experience a dotting of trees, casting shadows, telling of the early morning time, knowing that as you descend in the late afternoon the shadows cast will have changed sides noting that time has passed and the day will soon end. As you ascend further towards your destination, the narrowing of the road has added envelopment by encroaching, bending, branching trees giving you the feeling of being hugged by nature. Soon thereafter, you find yourself negotiating hairpin turns and long vistas to the sides you have passed and yet to come. The climb is captivating and finally you see the sign letting you know that Rankin Ranch at 23500 Walker Basin Rd, Caliente, CA is close at hand.

Our first experiences on the ranch included archery, horseshoe toss, swings, ping pong, and a recreation center full of games and places to rest, relax and view the ranch scenery from a giant viewing window.

Photos of us horseback riding, enjoying the hay wagon ride and meadow for our BBQ lunch will help to see what you can do here as well. Also, included are photos of one hundred year old barns, structures, vistas, equipment and the appropriate ranch animals.



We did not have enough time for swimming and fishing, but have vowed to return to spend more time and another spring at Rankin Ranch. Being in a country environment reveals new truths by adding  new dimensions to your thinking. There is a slow quiet revelation and as it unfolds, it is unencumbered by the commotion, racket, clamor and the blasting sounds of city life. You become able to decipher your own state of reality, your own state of fact. You are able to incorporate inspirational and motivational gifts from nature’s source.

Brandeis Day Trippers at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, California

January 12, 2012

If you have an opportunity to visit the Homeboy  Industries Facility at 130 Bruno Street in Los Angeles, California, you will have an enlightening and spiritual journey you will long remember. Our day was spent in awe. WE had lunch at the Homegirl Café. The food is delicious and generous. The Bakery is full of lovely pastries and luscious breads. If you happen to be there past 2:00 p.m. you will be able to buy two breads for the price of one. What a deal. In addition to the Homegirl Café and the Homeboy Bakery, there is silk screening and embroidery, merchandise made by members is sold on the premises and can be ordered; an active component is their Homegrown mini farm that not only helps supply the dining facility, but is sold in Farmer’s Markets at many locations in Los Angeles.

All of Homeboy Industries is funded purely on donations and not only the services you see are available to give people at risk a second chance, they are also offered, temporary housing, urgent medical, mental health and dental care, child care, emergency car repairs, bus and train tokens and vouchers, tattoo removal, food and clothing for job interviews and to create a new image. Education is a strategic part of the recovery program. Academic classes in Life Skills, Substance Abuse, Support groups, Extracurricular classes and Work Readiness classes are offered everyday. Some are elective and some are mandatory. Another very important part of the work at Homeboy is job training and job referrals.

All and all the day spent at Homeboy Industries was enlightening and important! Donations are appreciated. Go for a visit. Eat lunch. Buy some bread and pastries and most of all talk with people in the facility. Better yet, if you know when you will be there, ask for a private tour. The people at Homeboy Industries are proud to share their accomplishments.


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