Cirsium occidentale var. compactum (Compact Cobwebby Thistle)

30 05 2012

A highlight of my outing to Arroyo de la Cruz at Hearst San Simeon State Park last Saturday was seeing this cute little pokey plant, which also happens to be a rare endemic native. I added 5 photos of it to my Flickr photo stream. It was picturesquely growing near a bluff over the Pacific ocean.





Próxima Parada at Linnaea’s Cafe in San Luis Obispo

12 04 2012

I created a new channel on my Vimeo account with some casual recordings I’ve made of one of my favorite local bands based in San Luis Obispo, California. Although young, this group of talented singer-songwriters and musicians, draws from some of the great musical artists of the 60s & 70s as well as more contemporary artists. The styles of the music they perform vary quite a bit, so the best thing to do is just sit back and enjoy listening to a selection of their music, and you’ll see what I mean. It would be even better to see them live, and they’ve been playing around here and there in San Luis Obispo, and especially lately at the popular Linnaea’s Cafe downtown on Garden Street. In fact, Próxima Parada will be playing at Linnaea’s Cafe this Saturday, April 14 from 8-10 p.m. Their sets always (at least the three times I’ve seen them perform) include a fun mix of original songs written by Nick Larson and/or Bryson Bailey as well as some carefully chosen covers, some going back to before these guys were born!

Click here to go to the Próxima Parada channel on Vimeo.





Próxima Parada ~ “Who You Callin’?”

8 04 2012

This is a great song written entirely, lyrics & music, by Bryson Bailey. I really like the vibe of this! Apparently the band was only introduced to this as a finished song the night before this performance. I wouldn’t have guessed as everyone seemed really into the groove like they had been playing it awhile.

Próxima Parada at Linnaea’s Café, San Luis Obispo, California, March 10, 2012

Bryson Bailey (lyrics, lead vocals, electric guitar)
Nick Larson (percussion)
Myles Wittman (trumpet)
Clayton Cole (bass)

Próxima Parada ~ “Who You Callin’?” from Michelle C. Torres-Grant on Vimeo.





Music To Make You Smile

28 03 2012

“I woke up this morning, and all I could feel was music
I woke up this morning, and all I could feel was music
Let’s jump on that front porch, and damn well darn abuse it
Let’s wake up every morning, and only feel this music”

So there was this new banjo, and the members of Próxima Parada, one of my favorite local bands, seemed excited to put it to good use. They only had the banjo for about a week, and just the night before this performance Nick & Bryson came up with the idea to do this fun medley. It starts out with the familiar “Dueling Banjos,” but then it segues into an original knee slapping, hand clapping, foot stompin’ song. They had the whole audience going (watch the video; it’s guaranteed to make you smile!). They call the medley “Next Stop; Porch Stompin’ ” (Próxima Parada is Spanish for “Next stop”).

Próxima Parada at Linnaea’s Café, San Luis Obispo, California, March 10, 2012

Bryson Bailey (lyrics, lead vocals, electric guitar)
Nick Larson (vocals, banjo, mandolin)
Myles Wittman (trumpet)
Clayton Cole (bass)
Kevin Middlekauff (sitting in on mandolin & banjo)

Próxima Parada ~ “Next Stop: Porch Stompin’ “ from Michelle C. Torres-Grant on Vimeo.





Bandly at The Sanitarium Music Nights Salon in San Luis Obispo

22 03 2012

Everyone at The Sanitarium Music Nights in San Luis Obispo, California, seemed to be enjoying the high energy performance of local band Bandly. They really rocked the house with their three song set. They are a newly formed band; I can’t wait to hear more! Here they are performing their original song, “Couldn’t Stay,” on March 21, 2012.

Bandly is Benly (guitars, vox and keys)
and Danly (drums, bass, keys and vox)

The Sanitarium Music Nights are organized by Vincent Bernardy of St. Vincent Folk. They are every first & third Wednesdays of each month at 7:00 p.m. at The Sanitarium Inn & Spa in San Luis Obispo, California. It’s a casual and fun gathering of local musicians, singers and singer-songwriters performing for an intimate audience of music lovers and fellow musicians.

Bandly ~ “Couldn’t Stay” from Michelle C. Torres-Grant on Vimeo.





Central Coast Love Song

22 03 2012

I really enjoyed finally meeting Central Coast singer songwriter, Don Lampson, last night at The Sanitarium in San Luis Obispo, California. Here is a song he wrote for his long time love, Peg, called The Heart of the Chaparral. It tells the story of their life together. Don gave a heart felt performance, and I loved how the lyrics referenced the Central Coast!

Don Lampson ~ “The Heart of the Chaparral” from Michelle C. Torres-Grant on Vimeo.





On Becoming An Aviatrix: Earning My Wings (Part II)

21 06 2010

At the end of my last post, The Seed Is Planted (Part I), my husband and I, after much deliberation decided that we were going to set down our roots on the California Central Coast with the aim of establishing an architecture firm. A big reason I was okay with the decision even though I was a little reluctant about living on the Central Coast was I had decided that as soon as we were financially able I would take up flying as a hobby,  and that would alleviate any negative feelings I might have about living in a small town. Besides visiting friends and family in both southern and northern California, I had dreamed of having fun adventures. Having inherited the travel bug through my parents, the idea of becoming a pilot was becoming increasingly appealing. There were other aspects of piloting that aligned with my interests besides traveling.

Since I was a young child I was always fascinated with maps. Growing up in a middle class family of eight people, finances dictated that there would be more road trips than flying trips. Because of my interest in maps, even though I was the third child, I actually ended up being the family navigator and trip planner.  My trip planning method is still the same today as it was back then: select a primary destination; study the map; plot out the best route taking into consideration available time and resources, terrain,  plus research places of interest along the way.

Hand-in-hand with my love of maps was the fact that I’m what you would call “a big planner.” All my family and friends know this about me. I’m all about keeping a calendar and making lists. Some people (the ones who are not planners) think that being a planner is restrictive when, in my opinion, the opposite is true. To me planning is about organizing one’s time to achieve goals. It’s also about setting priorities and allocating resources. My friends are often amazed at the sheer quantity of things I do, and yet I still find free time for hobbies, travel and other leisure pursuits. The irony of it is I actually block out time in my calendar for such activities. In other words, I plan when not to plan!

So while contemplating and thinking about my love of maps, travel, and planning, learning to fly started to become more than just a dream. It became a goal. How cool would it be to have a hobby that incorporated multiple interests and aspects of my own personality? But there were some major obstacles. The first major obstacle was money. Fact #1: flying is expensive, any way you slice it. Fact #2: We were recent college grads with very little income. I realized that during that time learning to fly was not meant to be. It would have to wait until a later time. Who knew when that would be? It would turn out to be a huge exercise in patience.

Fast forward 7 years to 1998: After struggling through the early post grad years and slowly emerging out of the recession, my husband finally was able to earn his architect’s license and start up our firm, LGA Architecture in Pismo Beach in 1997. I had been a housewife, the primary caregiver of our two small children. I was working at Pismo Beach Athletic Club as both a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. Why is this important to my story about becoming an aviatrix? Well, it just so happened that the head of flight attendants for Wings West was also a group fitness instructor and her name was Nanette. Wings West, which was based at San Luis Obispo (KSBP), was the regional carrier that was contracted by American Eagle, the regional airline for American Airlines.

One day, on a break during a staff meeting, I overheard Nanette talking about how she was recruiting a local girl to be a flight attendant, and that she would be flying out to DFW soon for training. That piqued my interest, and I began to ask Nanette about what it was like to be a flight attendant. Everything she told me sounded wonderful! She said, “Why don’t you apply?” I don’t remember thinking about it for very long before I decided I would do it! The next thing I knew I was flying out to Dallas to interview at the  headquarters of AMR (the parent company for American Airlines & American Eagle). In a blink of an eye I was hired, went home, and in a few weeks would return to Dallas for flight attendant training at the American Airlines Flight Academy. Soon I would have my wings, but I would still not be a pilot.

Next blog post: How I moved from the cabin to the flight deck.

Previously published June 21, 2010 at Forbes.com “Wheels Up”








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