Tag Archives: San Diego

Picture of the Moment—Cactus Cats

Picture of the Moment

There is a feral colony of cats living in San Diego’s Balboa Park in one of the cactus gardens.

I call them the “Cactus Cats.”

Here are five of them keeping watch over the cactus:

Cactus Cats of Balboa Park

Wow, oh wow. Hidden San Diego.

Halls of History

In my never-ending exploration of all things San Diego, I found a plaque along a walkway in Balboa Park. Looks like this:

Agaston Haraszthy

I have walked this path hundreds of times yet never saw this plaque even though it is on a good-sized rock. However, as you can see in the picture, it looks like the vegetation that once covered it has been pruned back.

Or maybe, just maybe, it has been in storage from when the walkway was expanded a couple of decades ago and now has been returned to its original location. I know the City of San Diego often does that. Sadly, sometimes things never get returned to the original location…..

So, of course, I had to jump on the research wagon to find out more.

Research Wagon

Agoston HaraszthyWe know from the plaque that Agoston Haraszthy was born in 1812, was the first Sheriff of San Diego, and died in 1869….

I was sure that my 762-page book, San Diego Trivia 2 by Evelyn Kooperman, would provide quite a bit of information. I mean, after all, he was San Diego’s first Sheriff!

I was excited when the index said that Agoston Haraszthy was on page 6. A full page all to himself!

Sadly, the entry’s not even about Agoston Haraszthy. It’s about Roy Bean. Yes, Judge Roy Bean. Haraszthy is casually mentioned. Here is the entry:

Roy Bean. Around the mid-1800s, San Diegans decided to be truly civilized, they needed a jail. Bids went out, and Agoston Haraszthy, who was sheriff and town marshal, was picked to do the job. He hired someone to build a 20-by-50-foot room of cobblestones, which wee set in mortar that contained no cement. According to legend, the first prisoner in the 1852 cell was Roy Bean, nephew of Mayor Joshua Bean. This was the same Roy Bean who was later known as “Judge” Roy Bean, famous for his “Law West of the Pecos.” No soon was Roy incarcerated than he began digging in the soft mortar with either a jackknife or a spoon, and quickly made his way out.

I wondered what a Google search might provide. I was not hopeful.

Surprise!

A Google search took me to the greatest encyclopedia in the history of the world: Wikipedia (where I happen to be an editor who can make edits stick permanently). Following are highlights of his life, and the link to his Wikipedia page follows this list.

      1. August 30, 1812—Born to a Hungarian noble family in Pest, Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire. Pest has been part of Budapest since 1873.
      2. January 6, 1833—Married Eleonóra Dedinszky in Bács-Bodrog County, Hungary. The Dedinszkys were a Polish family but had lived in Hungary for many centuries, being accepted into Hungarian nobility in 1272. Agoston and Eleonora had six children.
      3. March 1840—Traveled to the United States with a cousin, making their way through Austria, Germany, and England, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to New York, and made their way to Wisconsin via the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, and the Great Lakes.
      4. 1840—Founded the town of Széptáj, now knosheim winery
      5. roxbury winwn as Sauk City, which was the first incorporated village in the State of Wisconsin.
      6. 1842—Returned to Hungary to bring his parents, wife, and children to Wisconsin as permanent residents of the United States.
      7. 1842-1849—Built mills, raised corn and other grains, and kept sheep, pigs, and horses. Kept a store and opened a brickyard. Many of the oldest houses still standing in Sauk City were built with bricks from Haraszthy’s brickyard. Owned and operated a the first commercial steamboat to carry passengers and freight on the Mississippi River. Donated land on which the first Roman Catholic church and school in Sauk City were built. Planted grapes and dug wine cellars on the east side of the Wisconsin River in what became the Town of Roxbury. The cellars and slopes are today home to the Lake Wisconsin AVA and the Wollersheim Winery, the second oldest winery in the United States.
        Wollersheim Winery
      8. March 1849—He and his family left for California, not for the gold rush, but to settle in San Diego and plant a vineyard. Elected captain of the wagon train that traveled the Santa Fe Trail, arriving in San Diego in December 1849.
      9. 1850-1868—Formed a partnership with Juan Bandini, a prominent Spanish-Californian in San Diego (see my blog post about Casa de Bandini). Planted fruit orchards, operated a livery stable and stagecoach line, built a state hospital, and opened a butcher shop. Organized a syndicate to subdivide a large section of the San Diego Bay shore into streets, parks, and building lots, called Middletown. Planted a vineyard on a tract of land near the San Diego River. Led an unsuccessful movement to divide California into two states.
      10. April 1, 1850, elected Sheriff of San Diego County. Also served as city marshal. In his capacity as a private contractor, built a jail for the city of San Diego, which was completed in 1851.
      11. September 1851—Elected to the California State Assembly from San Diego, serving from January 5 to May 4, 1852.
      12. March 25, 1852—Bought land in San Francisco near Mission Dolores and near Crystal Springs and planted vineyards. Found the climate too foggy to ripen the grades.
      13. April 1854—Haraszthy became the first U.S. assayer at tne newly opened San Francisco Mint.
      14. 1856—Bought a small vineyard northeast of Sonoma.
      15. 1857—Founded Buena Vista Winery, the oldest commercial winery in California.
        Buena Vista Winery
      16. 1858—Wrote a 19-page “Report on Grapes and Wine of California,” published by the California State Agricultural Society. Now recognized as the first treatise on winemaking written and published in California, and praised as the “first American explication of traditional European winemaking practices.”
      17. April 23, 1862—Elected President of State Agricultural Society. Contributed articles to newspapers and made speeches to gatherings of agriculturalists. Entered his wines in the competition of the California State Fair and received the highest awards.
      18. 1863—Incorporated the Buena Vista Vinicultural Society, the first large corporation in California (perhaps in the United States) organized for the express purpose of engaging in agriculture.
      19. 1864—Harper’s Magazine proclaimed that Buena Vista was “the largest establishment of the kind in the world.
      20. 1861—Appointed by California Governor John G. Downey as a commissioner to report to the Legislature on the “ways and means best adapted to promote the improvement and growth of the grape-vine in California.” Traveled through France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Hungary before returning to California in December 1861 with more than 100,000 cuttings of more than 350 different varieties of vines. It is a disputed claim that Haraszthy brought the first Zinfandel vines to California.
      21. 1868—Left California for Nicaragua. He formed a partnership with a German-born physician and surgeon named Theodore Wassmer and began to develop a large sugar plantation near the seaside port of Corinto, Nicaragua, where he planned to produce rum and sell it in American markets.
      22. July 6, 1869—Haraszthy disappeared. His body was never found, and it is unknown whether he fell into a river on his property and was washed out to sea, or was dragged under the water by alligators which infested the area.
      23. March 2007—Inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America.

All I have to say is, Wow! I have read so many books on San Diego history, and this is the first I ever have heard of Agoston Haraszthy, his relationship with San Diego, his entrepreneurship, and his significant vintner history. Wow, oh wow. Immigrants…. Thank goodness Twitler wasn’t around then.

Here is the link to his Wikipedia page.

Agaston Haraszthy

Rockin’ down the highway

I love it when I’m out and about and come across something that is featured in a song that I’ve been singing for several decades.

This morning I went to Albertsons, our local grocery store. Sitting in the middle of the parking lot was a Chevelle SS 396:

SS 396

SS 396

SS 396

That had me singing “SS 396” by Paul Revere & The Raiders from 1966:

The Chevelle SS 396 was in production from 1964 through 1973. I do not know what year model the one I saw was; the best I can determine is that it might be a 1964 or 1965. The highest-rated horsepower SS 396 was the 1970 model with 375 horsepower.

My first car was a 1976 Chevrolet Impala with a 400 cubic inch engine. Theoretically it should have been able to keep up with the Chevelle since it had a bigger engine. However, I think the Impala was a few million pounds heavier. So much for speed. So much for gas mileage, too. I always have tracked gas mileage, and that Impala on a good day gave me just over 7 miles per gallon. Eventually, I bought a cruise control system from Sears and installed it, increasing my mileage to 11 miles per gallon!

My next car was a 1976 Chevy Nova, also with a 400 cubic inch engine. After downsizing to a 1970 Datsum B210 station wagon (don’t ask), I went full on into the muscle car program: Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, Trans Am, Porsche. If you had told me back then that in 40 years I would be driving Toyota Avalon & Camry & Corolla, Honda Civic & Accord, Nissan Altima & Maxima, and—gasp!—a Honda Insight hybrid, I might have gone over to my uncle’s house, borrowed one of his 500 shotguns, and come after you. Sacrilege. Yet here I am:

2019 Honda Insight

I like to tell people that I officially am out of the horsepower phase of
my life and into the gas mileage phase. My 2019 Honda Insight is rated
at 55 city/49 highway. At first I thought the numbers were reversed,
but they are not. Out on the freeway, most of the driving is under gas power. In the city, sitting at traffic signals and such, most of the driving
is under electric power.

The best I have done in the five months I have had the car is 51.1 mpg on the highway and 53.8 mpg in the city. The good highway driving on that one tank was the result of stop & go traffic for two round trips of 290 miles between San Diego and the Los Angeles County Arboretum over two consecutive days. I was quite happy

With electric power and 4TB of my music in the car, I don’t even mind stop & go traffic anymore. I just sit back, cruise on electric, and rock on down the highway.

Love the dang horse

Music on Mondays (8/12/19)—Love the dang horse!

Music has been a significant part of my life throughout my life.

I started piano lessons at the age of two under the tutelage of my mother who played piano and organ.

At the age of six, I started violin lessons.

At the age of ten, I started voice lessons.

For 25 years I have been married to a pianist who has bachelor and master degrees in piano performance, accompanies voice and instrument students in private practice, has served as accompanist at San Diego State University, and has been in a chamber music trio for the last decade.

In my retirement years, I listen to music for 10-18 hours a day. For the past several years, I have been creating a “Desert Island” flash drive just in case I’m ever lost lost on a desert island—think Gilligan’s Island, or even Lost In Space. Currently there are 1,053 songs on my Desert Island list, but I haven’t added any songs since May 2017 when I added Dig Down by Muse.

I guess I should modify my previous statement: “I haven’t added any songs since May 2017….” until yesterday when I added Love the Dang Horse by Band Argument. “Slides” below is their 2-song release from a couple of days ago. Love the Dang Horse is track 2. Hopscotch is not bad, either, so give both of them a listen. Hopefully, Band Argument will get credit (and royalty money!) by me embedding their music here using their embedding code.

Slides by Band Argument

Band Argument is a local San Diego group.

Sil Damone – Bass / Vox
Jake Kelsoe – MIDI / Guitar
Alex Simonian – MIDI / Guitar
Jordan Krimston – Drums / Samples

I think they were founded in late 2018. I met their drummer, Jordan Krimston, through Julian Rey Saenz, a former employee of mine in 2014 whom many readers might remember. I might also note here that Jordan is an awesome guitarist and quite a good vocalist, too. A multi-talented musician. Look out, Paul McCartney!

Jordan and Julian graduated high school together in June 2016. Julian went off to college while Jordan eschewed college to follow his music passion. I understand both going off to college and following a music passion, so I support them both. Secretly, though, and with 20/20 hindsight, I wish I could have/would have followed my music passion. Anyways….

In reading reviews of this song and Band Argument, I discovered a music genre called math rock. According to the Wikipedia entry,

math rock is a style of indie rock that emerged in the late 1980s in the United States…. Math rock is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures (including irregular stopping and starting), counterpoint, odd time signatures, angular melodies, and extended, often dissonant, chords.

My only complaint about everything I have heard in the math rock genre is that it is difficult to understand the words, ergo making it difficult for a singer like me to sing along. I would love it if the mixer would put just a little more ooomph into the vocalist. They have published the lyrics, so here they are:

good morning how’s mother? do we still know each other?
the paper tears and they post a notice telling you I see clearly
sinking down through the bedding
a new world under my room
a new world inside my womb

this ink, it flurries. wash the milkshake off
friendly and free strawberries at the scene
hey boyo! operator press the green
I can’t see why you can’t read me thorough and quick
questing to be fuck naturally and sing
123 pickin out ticks suture me to that there cliff

we sink, in flurry
hope she can wake to rise in time for the dew
hey honey! operator tie my shoe
I can’t see why you can’t read me thorough and quick
questing to be fuck naturally and sing

suture me too I’ll say add some salt oh no

I’m thinking that the definition in Wikipedia of math rock needs to be updated, perhaps something like “Vocals are difficult to understand and make no sense.”

Apparently there is a large math rock culture here in San Diego. I’m rooting for Band Argument to rise to the top.

LOVE THE DANG HORSE!

Love the dang horse

A Piece Missing—They probably would have been called nightmares!

A Piece Missing

Relevant music for your reading enjoyment:

“Mad World” by Tears for Fears, 1982

“Mad World” by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, 2001
(from the movie “Donnie Darko”)

“Mad World” by Adam Lambert, 2009
(from the eighth season of “American Idol”)

I never had a dream that I can remember until a few months ago. Now it seems I’m dreaming every night, and I remember the dreams, and the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had….

My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother used to find me awake in my room in the middle of the night, with a flashlight, reading. That was shortly after she adopted me in December 1965, just a few months short of me turning 11. At first she got upset, and punished me. However, after many nights of catching me not sleeping, she finally took me to the doctor, the same doctor (Dr. Newell) who had brought me into this world on March 11, 1955, at 11:58 p.m. After an extensive physical exam, including my first check for hernias (I will always remember the first Zoey the Cool Cat on the bookshelftime someone else touched my junk!), he diagnosed me as “a catnapper.”

I have been a catnapper all my life, but I have learned to use it to my advantage. I used to tell my bosses that if they needed anything done overnight that I could make it happen. Eventually, bosses were approaching me at 4:45 p.m. with work that needed to be done by 5:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. for our East Coast clients). Russel was on it! No problem!

Using it to my advantage didn’t mean that I was happy being a catnapper. I spent many thousands of dollars at Boston Medical Center, Houston Medical Center, and UCLA Medical Center trying to find out what was wrong with me that I couldn’t sleep more than three hours at a time, never reaching REM sleep, and never dreaming.

Finally, I got involved in a sleep study here in San Diego THAT PAID ME instead of me paying them. After nine consecutive days (two weekends and a week) of sleeping in a laboratory, the doctors diagnosed me as a “polyphasic sleeper.”

WTF

A catnapper!

Prior to 1989, we were catnappers. Now we are polyphasic sleepers.

I’m still a polyphasic sleeper, getting my 8-10 hours of sleep each day in increments of 30 minutes or so every 4-6 hours. However, when I finally hit the sack for the last time, around midnight to 2:00 a.m., I am able to sleep for 5-6 hours. I’m fairly certain that my newfound sleep and dreams are related to new medications.

That means that I enter REM sleep and get to dream.

And the dreams are vivid!

Firestarter, by Stephen KingThey seem to be based on movies and TV shows I have enjoyed, especially Stephen King movies, science fiction movies (Star Trek, Star Wars), TV shows (The Time Tunnel, and back to Star Trek).

And I always die.

And I always wake up the moment I’m killed.

And I always remember them.

Pretty cool….

Although I will admit that I’m probably lucky that I didn’t have these dreams when I was a child. They probably would have been called nightmares!

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Out & About—The Flower Fields open today!

Out & About San Diego

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad open today and remain open through May 12.

Their specialization is the giant ranunculus, which they grow on about fifty acres. There are another five acres of other flowers: roses, petunias, columbines, water lilies, geraniums, sweet peas, poinsettias, cacti & succulents, and more.

If you’re in the San Diego area during this time, I can highly recommend a visit to The Flower Fields.

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California

There are lots of activities for the family, as well. They often have a maze for the children that is created out of tall walls of growing sweet peas plants, all in flower.

Instead of being forced to go through a gift show on your way out, you’re forced to go through what I believe is Armstrong Garden Centers’ biggest and best nursery.

If you don’t spend the whole day in The Flower Fields—I do!—there is a lot more to see and do just around the corner:

  • LegolandLegoland with its awesome SeaLife Aquarium
  • Museum of Making Music where budding musicians, as well as musicians in full flower (puns intended!), can play drums, guitars, and quite a few other instruments
  • Green Dragon Tavern & Museum with great New England cuisine and a Revolutionary War Museum.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post