Category Archives: Half Moon Bay

Restaurants, shops, people, and the other flotsam and jetsam in Half Moon Bay

A Kinder, Gentler Tsunami

No, we’re not completely nuts.

And yes, we did go down to our beach on Friday’s glorious spring morning in the company of about fifteen of our neighbors to watch the tsunami surges come in.

In defense of our decision to head towards the water when there was a tsunami warning for our area, please note: the warning was for a 3-4 foot wave during the low of low tide, and we were standing on a cliff 50 feet above the beach where the crows fly at eye level. Plus, it was a beautiful day, and Hwy 92 was completely jammed with the sane people who were “heading for higher ground,” so there would be no heading over the hill any time soon anyway. (There were still cars parked at the summit when I came home from work later on, leading one to the conclusion that there are some VERY nervous people out there.)

In addition, this was our second “potential tsunami with lots of warning” experience in just over a year, so I suppose we were a little more seasoned and calmer about the whole thing.

After all, we walk past this sign every day. It points to our house on the hill.

As the surge started, the water receded farther than we had ever seen it before at any low tide.

Within about three minutes, it had pushed into a decent high tide. We shot some video of one of the surges.

We’ve seen some pretty spectacular water down there in the past year.

But this, while not overly dramatic from an “Oh My! Look at those waves!” kind of way, was amazing to watch. The water just keep coming in, uncoupled from the usual “sets of seven” wave behavior. These weren’t merely waves: this was a tsunami.

We were watching incredibly pure, powerful and beautiful liquid energy pulsing across the empty, broad, beach.

This sand is accustomed to the pounding surge, and no one here was going to get hurt, which made our experience merely benignly fascinating. This, in stark contrast to the videos we watched of the horrific Sendai experience as it unfolded, made our privileged perch that much more profound and sobering.

Why do some people get to live in peace and safety while others don’t?

The Treasures of Pelican Beach

Ever watch people at the beach sauntering along the wave line–occasionally bending over to pick up something out of the sand–and think, “What a waste of time!”?

Think again.

Or better yet, try it.

Let your eyes wander over the smallest details of that amazing place called “the beach,” and discover gems of glass, edges softened by the pounding surge.

With such a simple task assigned to your eyes, the rest of your body, mind, and spirit is free to simply soak in all the beauty and healing that can be absorbed there.

Plus, it makes for a great team sport.

It’s especially wonderful when you find exactly the right hunting grounds that are ripe with gems for the harvest, allowing you to get your fingers wet while not putting you in the line of fire for a class-A soaker in your new boots.

Actually, I got the soaker anyway about ten minutes later while taking this next shot.

That kind of thing can sneak up on you when you’re concentrating on aperture settings and composition.

Not all the treasures we find are cool shells, rocks, and glass bits that can be tucked in a pocket and taken home.

At first, Rick thought this was a sponge. At the size of a large tangerine, he didn’t expect it to be a HUGE ball of fish roe. We left it there, on the theory that the incoming tide might take it back out to sea and give those 1467 seedlings a shot at life. But trust me, the opportunity to take it home and conduct experiments with $1467 worth of generic-brand caviar was a grave temptation indeed.

Sometimes the free gift is an unexpected opportunity to strut your ability to fly in front of your new friends, MiniMe and MicroMe.

Winnie can be such a show-off.

Occasionally the prize is an exquisite pendant just waiting to be strung. This one even came with a pre-drilled hole.

Coming across a piece of brilliantly polished glass gleaming happily against the neutral tones of sand and gravel is almost as good for the constitution as an out-of-control belly laugh.

Rick and I aren’t the only ones who enjoy beach combing. Can you see what Winnie was keeping an eye out for?

As in all other things, the joy of discovery is in the eye of the beholder.

While he doesn’t display much enthusiasm for glass bits, he seemed delighted by his free hacky-sack.

We try to keep an open mind on what counts as “cool.” Anyone know what that stone might be?

All the baubles and sunlight and beauty aside, the very best part of walking the beach together is the together part and knowing that the gentle hand and guitar-calloused fingers holding out 10-minutes worth of poking around in the tidal pools belong to your best friend.

On Kids, Time, and The Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ markets are better places for kids than grocery stores.

Instead of being stuffed into germ-ridden shopping carts and wheeled down aisle after aisle of over-packaged high-fructose corn syrup, the kids in our Half Moon Bay farmers’ market get around the old-fashioned way: they walk.

Yes, it makes the shopping experience longer, but how else are they going to have access to the appropriately height-positioned samples?

And how else are children going to learn to give goods their full consideration before making a final selection?

We often see adults in the produce section of a big box store choose fruit and vegetables using the “grab ‘n go” selection process. You have to conclude they’ve never learned the necessary insights of how to select a perfectly ripe peach, or how satisfying the experience can be, or how important AND delicious high quality food is.

But a weekly engagement in a shopping world which offers samples, knowledgeable and kind vendors, AND moves at a little kid’s walking speed can impart an education to an emerging consumer that no high-school nutrition class will ever match.

And freedom from a shopping cart allows not just walking, but a full range of movement.

Nothing like a little tomato-powered Zumba with room to twirl to set a girl’s Saturday morning on the right trajectory. Of course, not everyone’s a dancer. Some prefer to cozy up close and scrutinize the finger work…

… while others actually need the assistance of a couple of extra fingers in order to get jiggy wid’ it. This little dude took squealing pleasure in implementing the mantra “Bounce like no one’s watching.”

But walk, dance, sit, or bounce… in every case, parental units never seem to be in a rush to hurry through the experience. It’s one of the very few community interaction hubs where everyone goes at their own pace, and everyone else seems to be okay–and even enjoy–that, and one another.

The casual market setup provides lots of seating options for those not too proud or busy to pull up a curb or a crate. Now, there’s a concept I’d love to see in my local Safeway! I’ve often wanted to be able to set ‘er down on a horizontal surface for one minute, even if it’s just to check my list. Stores used to have such surfaces. They were called “the pickle barrel,” and you could plunk yourself down on one and chat with the grocer or people watch for a minute or two.

The pace also encourages all kinds of learning opportunities that one rarely sees in a conventional grocery store.

Because each stall at our market houses an independent vendor, there can be several transactions, mostly involving actual cash, during a shopping visit instead of just one electronic swipe at a checkout counter. Without the pressure of the long line-up behind you, both market merchants and market parents are willing to take the time to let kids participate in the exchange.

This little girl was her family’s official “money holder.” She took her job seriously and with an admirable, almost ferocious, intensity. You could already see the pink-fleece venture capitalist waiting to bust into the world.

The lessons in commerce are equally matched by opportunities to expand the palate.

And who knows the depth of impact imparted when children watch other children happily trying new things?

At minimum, the farmers’ market experience opens the door to new family avenues of conversation and a great place to slow down, open up, and hang out… to become community.

All photos of children in this blog are used with parental consent.

HMB Farmer’s Market: Life Is Good!

It’s going to take us a long time to write the Farmer’s Market book.

Maybe we should have started when we were four or five.

The problem is, we’re with the little girl in the hat: life IS good!

And when there are tomato plants to consider, and perfect white cotton dresses and funky glasses to enjoy, and a 69-degree, full-sun, no-plans kinda day in Half Moon Bay to spend at one’s leisure, why do anything but that?

HMB Brewery Dogs

Last Sunday at the Half Moon Bay Brewery, there were more dogs than children — and the dogs were better behaved.

They sat when it was requested of them, and aside from the occasional nose bump or delicate inquiry into a chum’s rectal health, seemed content to mind their own business and eat what was put in front of them without complaint.

Of course, some sport more heavy motivational bling than others. I saw a few parents of serious brats eye-balling that collar with a wistful gaze.

And yes, there was bling.

Marilyn Monroe (seriously: I asked) here had spent more time on her hair than I had.

And Cody Bryant (yup) had on a nicer shirt than me. Kinda embarrassing, actually…

Jake was just too hot in the full sun. Silly dog… wearing a fur like that to a brew pub. What was he thinking?

Negra knew better. She went with a lighter coat in a simple black and tan motif.


Shecky chose the understated yet classic dog tag…

… while all Holly needed was her big smile, can-do attitude, and excellent posture to show up fully dressed.

It was Griffin, though, who made me feel better about the whole “who combed whose hair before dining out?” one-upsmanship thing…

… and Bubba was a great reminder that fretting about one’s weight while simultaneously anticipating a good meal is just plain dumb.

I relaxed about my appearance, and we settled in with the other kids to visit until a table was free.

And as we waited, I found myself with a question that had never occurred to me before…

Do wiener dogs get nervous in a restaurant with a children’s menu?

On Writing A Book About Farmers Markets

First of all, why?

1. We love farmers’ markets for the fresh, local, organic produce.


Where DOES it come from?


For instance, what’s the difference between the ways organic and mass-market cherry farmers go about their business? And why, in our opinion, do the organic ones taste so much better?


How much work goes into raising a $2 bunch of organic swiss chard?


Or an organic red onion?


And who are these people who choose to make a living this way?  For instance, Farmer John here… what’s the story of chard before it gets here on a Saturday morning, and why do he and Eda do this and not something else?


We love that farmers’ markets are populated with people on both sides of the tables who wear everything from parkas to promotional t-shirts…


.. to perfect, powder-blue pullovers…


.. to purple hair, if that’s the way you roll.


Ever wanted to see a TRUE strawberry blond?

So while the primary draw is access to locally produced food and other goods, the ultimate story is, of course, about people.


2. Farmers’ markets are about community and the interactions between the people who buy the goods…


… and the people who produce them.


There’s a generosity and artisan pride in the practice of offering samples…


… and a palpable and respectful connecting of one generation to the next in the transaction that inspires incredible hope in us.


There’s an authentic simplicity and beauty to the promotion of goods that is sane and comforting.


And there’s enough intrigue of gustatory possibilities to satisfy any foodie’s fantasies, which leads us to the third reason why someone might write a book on farmers’ markets.


3. Once you’ve got it home, what can you do with it?

For every food vendor we hope to highlight, we’ll not only feature the marketplace experience and what it takes back on the farm to get them there, but we’ll also share the fun of what we do with it once we get the goods into our own kitchen.

Yes, yes… there will be tears of joy over what Rick comes up with.

That’s just how I roll.


So that’s why. Now, how?

We figure we’ll start with Erin.

Erin, a farmer of a niche variety of scallions and a lifetime local, started the Coastside Farmers’ Markets of Half Moon Bay and Pacifica nine years ago.

We figure that beyond a kickin’ story about how the market got started and why, she’ll know where to get a great cup of coffee to go with the Bee Bakery lavender shortbread cookies.

Tucker Recites Haiku


Walk as Tucker: blessed.
No matter life’s twists and turns…
Always face downhill.


Saved, no sire or bitch
Is known. But “rescue” is sweet.
Life! Life! Life! Life! Life!


Corgi? Beagle? Jack?
Yes. I slink, therefore, I am.
You know? Comment, please.


Secrets on the breeze…
Weimaraner on the beach?
Fickle bitch. Bye bye.


Forget heartache pain.
Life is short, and I am, too.
Want to hear a joke?


Cats must poop inside.
My gal loves me more than this.
She saves mine in bags.


Heee! Oooh… ahhh… well… hmmm….
No better moment in life
Than sigh after laugh.


Oh, noble beast, I am!
Chuckles are good, but… what’s next?
Set, poised, and waiting.

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