Carpinteria is quaint and roomy in the britches. Another reason to love fall in California.
You know how when someone loves you to the point where they kind of lose their identity? That’s me and White Fang. I have totally lost my identity. In a way she has absorbed me and my heart and subverted all my lofty ideals (such as they were).
Yesterday, we almost lost her to coyotes. That’d been tragic. She was out in the yard doing her morning chores, when I heard barking. White Fang never barks, so I raced outside in the dark to find it was the coyotes that were barking.
Thank you, coyotes, for alerting me to an impending attack. Not 100% certain the aggressor, but I just assume it was the notorious White Fang, who doesn’t tolerate other animals so well.
What probably happened is the coyotes were minding their own business, trotting down the road, maybe doing some holiday shopping, when they came upon a wolf with the eyes of a Bond girl – Russian and without mirth. She might be related to Melania, for all I know.
Anyway, I raced to her rescue, not realizing it was the coyotes I was rescuing. They were really scared, and continued to yip-yip – you know that startled little-girl sound coyotes make. I wanted to hold the scrawny little deadbeats but didn’t.
“Leave the coyotes alone,” I scolded White Fang. “You were raised better than that.”
Honestly, she wasn’t. I just like the way that sounds in public when she misbehaves.
So onward we go, dealing with ambushes, pandemics, and now these holidays (such as they are)
Notice my use of the Oxford comma in the last sentence. I shunned the OC for years. After all, an Oxford comma is just a period with a milk mustache … a coward’s smirk. Many commas are horribly abused, placed in places where the writer’s brain paused for a moment, and he or she, not knowing what to do next, thinks, “I’ll throw in a comma, that’s what I’ll do.” Then does.
Keep in mind, this is coming from a person who just wrote the phrase “placed in places,” trying to make a flourish where none existed before. Don’t judge me too harshly. William Faulkner made a life of extraneous words in long rambling sentences that were, to my mind anyway, a sign of laziness and a general lack of discipline, indulgent even, much like this sentence right here.
No one should have to read Faulkner, except as a form of punishment. Like, if you set the kitchen ablaze when you are making toast. “Go read 100 pages of ‘Absalom, Absalom,’” a mom would say. “No Ma, anything but that. Puleeeease.”
Like the South, Faulkner makes me itchy. I use him mostly for firewood.
As always, I stand firmly behind all my half-baked notions of what’s good and evil. There’s no right or wrong on personal preferences.
In fact, I was just telling friends how “It’s a Wonderful Life” isn’t only the best holiday movie, it might be the very best movie of any kind. Some agreed, other gagged. My writer friend Flanagan, to whom I’m engaged to be engaged, suggested “The Bishop’s Wife” was far superior.
“Loretta Young? C’mon,” Flanagan scoffed, suggesting I couldn’t even spot the obvious.
By the way, that’s kind of how we ended up engaged to be engaged. Whenever someone talks to me dismissively, I propose. It’s the impulse behind a lot of bad choices in my life.
Anyway, the other day I got fed up and went on a hike with my new buds, Reesa and Diane. It was Monday, purportedly the hottest Nov. 16 on record, and that sapped any kernel of holiday spirit that had been threatening to build.
Nothing dispirits me more than a 90-degree day in November. For the most part, though, November has been glorious, with a long run of cool weather, and mornings frosty enough to chill my beer.
Enlivened by the crisp air, took a ride to Carpinteria the other day with my sidekick Smartacus, and that coyote-hunter White Fang, up to God’s Country (technically, anything north of Oxnard).
Carpinteria is just another scruffy little beach town on the way to nowhere, with the bronze plate so common to California beach towns. Nothing special.
Along the main drag were the requisite surf shop and a busy burger joint. The corner liquor had a grill in the back where they made excellent burritos and tortas. Very Central Coast. Quaint and roomy in the britches. People paint small rocks and leave them along the edge of the store fronts. Dorky things like that.
So, in fact, Carp is very special.
You know you’re living well when, in mid-November, you say to your travel partner: “Hey, Smartacus, grab the sunscreen out of the car, will ya?”
We had a bike ride and burgers with Bittner and Billable Bob, my attorney, who has a beach place up here, where we toasted our good fortune – or at least what’s left of it – got in the car and drove the 90 minutes home.
The sunset, like all sunsets, reminded me of pumpkin pie.
I told Smartacus that we really ought to do this once a month: pile in the car and go someplace we’ve never been.
In fact, I think we will. To places on the smirky lip of LA, Filmore or Apple Valley, where the air is full with fall and nut stands line the country lanes: persimmons, pomegranates, almonds. Places where the sunlight dances through the trees, providing the first yule glow of this difficult year.
I’m crushing on old California right now, can you tell? She has absorbed me and my heart and subverted all my lofty ideals.
Such as they were.
Wanna hike with me, Smartacus and White Fang? We’re planning a Thanksgiving weekend lap around the Rose Bowl, with social-distance safeguards in place. Stay tuned for details. Meanwhile, please check out my new book “Lavender in Your Lemonade.”