Brrr, it’s cold in Cayucos

February 26, 2023

Photo by Lance Wilson

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


I’m sitting at the keyboard in my tiny office, shivering. It’s around 46 degrees in my old place because I don’t use my wall heater and have only a borrowed tiny space heater. It’s a damp, penetrating cold that slices through my sweatpants and sweatshirt, both salvaged from the local thrift store. I am not used to this kind of hardship. I am a soft California guy who’s never lived north of Cayucos, except in the army, and in those days I was too young and stupid to feel much of anything.

The worst part is having to get up and pee a couple or three times a night. When I’m forced to do this, I tell myself, “You whining pussy, you could be in the Ukraine right now, so stop your goddam crying.”

One of my policies is to never wear long pants. Well, for about a week now I’ve been wearing my two pairs of sweats, both of which have experienced my personal tailoring, which means the legs were too long (there’s no trying on clothes at our thrift store), and I took the scissors to the bottoms, which are not exactly level and display irregular threads.

But so what! They work. They don’t look that bad anyway, compared to these young people showing up at Cayucos Coffee wearing scabby jeans with holes at the knees, like they’ve been shooting marbles for years on gravelly grounds.

Yesterday my good friend Hazel, sort of a grown-up person but not completely so, dropped by with her dog and witnessed my sitting in the recliner she donated to me, shivering. She was alarmed and vowed to bring over a space heater after viewing the tiny pathetic one I inherited from somebody years ago. This heater only spews out heat about a foot, at most.

Well, Hazel brought me the heater yesterday evening and I plugged it in next to the fan I use on hot days and which I also culled from the local thrift shop, and I placed it near my feet, which are crucial parts of your body if you seek to keep from becoming frozen.

Hazel fears I might catch pneumonia, and especially at night, when I valiantly sleep with only two comforters, both of course purchased for around 8 dollars from the thrift store. But I maintained to Hazel that the comforters work just fine, especially if I wear a T-shirt.

The worst part of this icy cold front is that I’m being driven out of my place and can’t go about my usual agenda, which does not fit well with a person closing in on 80. I spend an inordinate amount of time at home, enjoying small comforts, like reading the morning paper in the sun on the deck in a deck chair with a cushion (found free in a driveway in front of a plush home on Pacific) on the seat, and my feet propped on the same model cushion on another deck chair.

Even if it becomes a bit too breezy and cold, I can retire to my recliner and watch the sun begin to pour through the front window and relieve some of the resentment I harbor at being forced inside.

Now, though, with my small, claustrophobic front room lingering at 46-50 all day, because there is no sunlight, and rain and  gusty, scary wind tossing my deck furniture all over the place, I fear my electricity will go out and I won’t be comforted by TV or be able to read except by flashlight, nor turn on the beloved space heater Hazel has loaned me; reducing a fearful person who now wonders how those people who live in Minnesota and North Dakota survive subzero blizzards with no power—My God!

I wouldn’t survive a day, or an hour. And, since I am taking a train for a couple weeks to places like Denver and Lake of the Ozarks to see friends and relatives in April, I might have to contend with the kind of cold, damp, windy, rainy, sleety, snowy bullshit I’ve avoided all my life while clad in my throwaway apparel.

This morning I checked the weather for the week on my computer. It’s to rain and be around 40 degrees and less for at least five days. I am tragically unprepared. I showed up at the thrift store yesterday for another pair of sweat pants, but all they had were women’s sweats. I can’t wear women’s sweats. Even if I tailor them they look all wrong and people observing me will think worst thoughts about me than they already do.

I’m gonna have to suck it up and be a man in Central Coast California. But I have friends. Hazel has already emailed me twice, fraught with worry, offering to bring over an even bigger fan. I have to think it over.

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Remembering Bertrand Russell’s “Conjugation of an adjective,”

“I am tired, you are lethargic, he is lazy.”

“I am renovating, you are fixing up, he is gentrifying.”

You need to rescue a dog. I know Wilbur is gone, but come spring and summer, you’ll want someone to take a walk with. Shelters are brimming with older dogs that would fit right in with your lifestyle.

Oh how I wish it was 40f. Here in Minnesota it was -27 yesterday and warmed up to a nice 21f today.