Monday, September 25, 2017

My Big Mistake

We had just gotten back from a walk at the marsh on Saturday afternoon. It was a quiet and beautiful day out there, blue skies and warm autumn temperatures. There hadn't been much to photograph for most of our three mile walk until just around the end when we noticed this Long-billed Curlew with a damaged wing.
We felt so bad for it. It looked pretty miserable with that wing hanging down. I took a few more photos and decided to go to the Marsh Information Center to see if they call Wildlife Rescue for situations like this. So, we did that and learned that they don't actually call rescue themselves. The volunteer there gave me the number, and we decided to call when we got home, which we did. Humboldt Wildlife Rescue said that going to marsh to help birds like this is exactly what they do. The volunteer there said that she would have someone out there right away. We both thanked each other. It was great!

Then, I decided to download the photos I had taken on to my computer so I could see the photos of the Curlew (among the 35 other pics). I hooked the camera to the computer, saw the pics showed right up in iPhoto, as always. Then I got distracted, looked back at the computer screen and thought, "Cool, now I can disconnect the camera from the computer and delete these photos from the camera. I'm done." When I ejected the camera from the computer I deleted the photos from the memory card (yes, I took that one extra step as I always do), and then turned off the camera. I went back to the computer and saw that the photos were not there. What had I done? I had forgotten to actually click the "Import Photos" link in iPhoto. The photos were really GONE! I had never made such a goofy mistake before.

I told Roger and my twin brother about my big mistake. They both said that there was probably some way to salvage these photos even from a deleted memory card. My brother sent me a link to some informative stuff on CNET, and I started looking at Memory Card readers online to see where we could go buy one. It's not like these 35 photos were really special in any way, but the thought of losing them was a bummer. On Sunday, Roger remembered that our trusty old PC laptop has a chip reader built right in! We put in the card and voila! 144 photos were still on that thing even though I had clicked "delete from memory" every time I had downloaded photos. I was shocked! So, Roger figured out how to recover and download those photos.

Then came more than an hour of trying to figure out how to get those photos from the ancient PC to my very modern MacBook Pro. The USB thumb-drive wouldn't work in both formats. It was getting pretty frustrating for me, even though Roger was doing all the work! Then I had an idea. I remembered that we had a lot of never-used CDs. Roger slipped one of those discs into the PC, burned those photos on to it, and voila, we had a usable copy. I grabbed that CD and tried to put it in my new laptop and was reminded of the absurdity of the modern world... it doesn't have a CD drive. So, Roger downloaded the folder on to his old (reliable, wonderful) old Macbook Pro. I connected to it remotely and downloaded the folder.

Why did we do all of this? Because we can! Because we're computer nerds! Because we wanted to show you the Long-billed Curlew with its injured wing. We hope it was rescued liked these photos.

PS-- Roger wants you to know that he figured out how to get a thumb drive to work in both formats.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Words On A Wednesday: Wildlife Encounters

You know we see a variety of wildlife out at the marsh. Over the years we've seen foxes and river otters, long-billed curlews and greater yellowlegs. Well, the other day we were walking on one of the trails when this young'un came up to us, pointed at my camera and asked, "Is that a camera? Take my picture." And so I did.
I said to him, "Would you like me to show you the picture I just took?" He said, "Yes!"

So, I showed him the picture. He said, "Take another one, and I'll smile." And so I did.
We laughed and laughed. He mother said, "Okay, time to let these people move on."

We waved goodbye.

We never know what kind of wildlife we're going to see at the marsh!

Monday, September 18, 2017


... all the smoke cleared out and the fog stayed away. We saw the sky again after months of gray.

A morning begins with Venus and the moon before sunrise. I shout, "Roger, come see Venus!" It had been so long. Is it crazy to shout hello to a planet? Maybe, but we do it anyway.

We drive to the marsh and are dazzled by crepuscular rays spread across the horizon. We had never seen such a wide display like this. Is it crazy to point and dance around like kids on the marsh trail? Maybe, but we do it anyway.
We look out just after sunrise to see if there are any colors to shout about. No, but there are cirrocumulus clouds spread out against a picture perfect blue sky. We stand quietly and are grateful for a moment like this. Is it crazy to just be happy about the awesome beauty of the sky? Maybe, but we are anyway!

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Beautiful Web

This was the post I had written for Monday (9/11). I just remembered it and thought I'd post it today. There's so much distracting craziness these days, it's hard to stay focused on the simple daily things.
I hope you click on this photo. Such a web some industrious critter has created here. I love the complexity and beauty of it. It is like the wild ultimate wedding gown of webs. This is the only photo I could think of posting here to contemplate the crazy times we are living in.

Perhaps it doesn't really need to be recounted, but you know... the hurricanes, fires, heatwaves, threat of nuclear annihilation, Russian meddling in our elections, and a president who is off the scales on the psycho-pathological narcissism spectrum. And then, of course, my much-loved and declining mother.

It is a lot of work to try and stay sane right now, and really I'm not doing a very good job of it. This may because of my seriously overly sensitive sense of smell, which finally pushed me over the edge. About a week ago I thought I smelled a skunk very close by, so close I wondered if it might be under the house. Roger has anosmia, which means he can't smell a thing. I looked through all the little screened in vented areas in the foundation to see if I could see a skunk, perhaps stuck and trying to get out. Nope. The smell persisted for days. It was horrible. I kept looking for a sign, something that would let me know where the smell was coming from. Then, it finally began to dissipate only to be replaced by the smell of decomposition. I crouched down low and looked under the deck, so dark I couldn't see a thing. After two days of that, Roger got his very powerful flashlight and took a much better look under the deck. He said, "Yup, there's something dead under there." He grabbed a rake and pulled it out. Yes, a dead skunk, which he carefully disposed of. We think the skunk probably went under the deck after it had been injured. It was safe place to die there and mostly inaccessible. I've been burning incense and trying to reclaim some sense of sanity (ha ha, good luck with that!).

But then, you know how it is: Irma slams into Florida; the fires are still burning; anti-science crazies are in the White House; and my mother is lost in her own world of Alzheimer's.

Aren't spider webs beautiful?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Remembrances of Thing Past

I had a different post written and scheduled to publish today, but then I noticed what the date was. I thought about writing something new, but decided to just re-post this one from a decade ago. All of the comments on that post are gone because we were using a different commenting platform called Haloscan at the time, and they went defunct in 2009. So, if you'd like to share your memories, we would love to read them. When I re-read this post I realize how grateful I am that I wrote it because, seriously, I could never remember these details or write this again. What a day that was.On September 11, 2001 Roger and I woke in a cabin in Sierra City, Ca. The phone was ringing in our room. It was the first full day of our vacation. We had left Santa Cruz on Sunday afternoon September 9th and driven 250 miles to Truckee, Ca where we spent the night, and the morning drove the back roads to Sierra City. Our plan was to get there some time on the 10th, maybe do an afternoon hike, but to start our hiking vacation in the beautiful Lake Basin on the 11th. Our cabin had a full kitchen and bath, a TV with satellite, a telephone. We didn't have cell phones or a laptop. Primitive by 21st century standards. I had given our travel plans to my mother and my sister. They always know where we are, and we talk everyday no matter what. So even though we planned to be essentially out of touch, we were not out of reach.

The phone rang in our cabin at 7:00 in the morning. I couldn't believe it. Who would possibly call us so early? I picked up the phone with trepidation. It was my sister. She said, "Turn the TV on."

I said, "Are you kidding. It's 7:00 in the morning. No. You have to tell me why first."

She said, "Turn the TV. You have to see what's going on."

I said, "You have to tell me why first, Lynn. You're totally scaring me."

She said, "Planes hit the World Trade Center in NY. Turn on the TV. You have to watch this."

I said, "Oh my god."

I hung up, while Roger fiddled around with the satellite TV and found the news. We turned it on just in time to see the first building fall.

This was the first morning of our vacation. We didn't know whether to stay in Sierra City or drive home immediately. We kept the TV on and thought about it for a while. We made our tea and toast and watched the second building fall. We both said out loud in that cabin, "Osama bin Laden." We knew right away. We did not say, Saddam Hussein. We knew right away.

We decided that we should at least hike that morning and think about what to do while we were out on the trails. We hiked around between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. We cried at alpine lakes. We wondered about our loved ones who worked in NYC (who we later learned were in the throngs of people who walked across the Brooklyn Bridge that day). Our original plan had been to stay until some time late on Friday, but this disaster took all the joy out of our steps.

We stayed all day Wednesday and took a longer and more challenging hike in the high country, but felt hollow and detached from the moment. We decided to pack our car and head home on Thursday morning. We needed to be with our families and our neighbors. We listened to NPR all the way home. We arrived and found our nearest and dearest neighbors, we stood in the middle of the street for a long time talking with them. We repeated every story, every rumor, every fear, every hope.

We knew then that some aspect of our nation's innocence had been taken, but what we hadn't expected was how the Bush administration would steal everything else.

And here we are.

Where were you that day, and how do you feel about it all now?

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Green Heron

First green heron we've ever seen.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

California Fire Season

I checked our weather forecast on the National Weather Service site just to see how long our heatwave was going to last. We broke records here on Saturday, and truly all over the state temperatures rose to historical highs. Here's what I saw on their site:
Definitely click on that screen shot and take a look. It doesn't mention our crazy weather at all, it mentions the smoky air that has enveloped us for days. There are fires all over the mountains to the north, east, and south of us. California is burning. Our prevailing winds are usually onshore, but for the past few days they've been blowing from the east and bringing with it hot, smoky air.
This is what the marsh looked like on Saturday at 6:00 pm. This is the air we were breathing when we went for our walk. It was an hour and a half before sunset, but the sun was hazily lit by the smoke, and filled the incoming tide with sunset colors.

We actually headed out to the marsh to see these colors. They are breathtaking, literally and figuratively. Interestingly, when we arrived back at the parking lot after our walk, it was full of cars and people sitting on the hoods and roofs, watching this display.
It's always good to find the beauty even in the crazy smoky skies of California.

By Sunday our heatwave had diminished a bit. We're still under unhealthy smoky skies, but we're making the best of it. We are not in danger from fires in any way, unlike a lot of people we know and love. Ah, California summers.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: A Pink Sun

Summer is fire season in California. This is what the sun looked like on August 18th about an hour before sunset. The smoky foggy skies made for such an interesting color.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bone Weary

I posted this photo on Facebook the other day. This is what I wrote: If a photo could look like a moment of zen, this one does it for me. It's been foggy for days. The sky and bay are one. The birds are on an island of the mind. The grasses are the signed portrait of a moment.

I'm posting the photo here because I'm too lazy to write an actual post. My back hurts, and the results of my bone density came back and the news was not good. My osteoporitic bones continue to de-mineralize at a rate that I can't seem to stop.  I actually googled re-mineralizing bones to see if there was something else I could do besides Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and sunlight. (I won't do the crazy prescription medications that are often prescribed for this.) I found a naturopathic website that had this bit of advice:

  • dairy
  • soy
  • pineapple
  • oranges
  • animal proteins
  • junk foods
  • processed foods
  • coffee
  • red fruits (raspberries, strawberries-red skin, such as apples, are ok)
  • simple carbohydrates (refined wheat flours, bread, pasta, cereals and crackers)
Eat FOOD. 90% of what’s in today’s supermarkets is not food. Become familiar with the PRODUCE section and investigate new recipes.



Herbal Teas-- No Black Tea.

 Uh-oh. I live on tofu, dairy, red fruits, and I drink black tea. Their theory is that these acidifying substances are de-mineralizing my bones. I'm going to simply dismiss this theory. Wouldn't you?

I've been dealing with bone loss for years and years. If you search on the word osteoporosis on the blog, you will see so many well-written (LOL!) posts dating all the way back to 2006. I was really hoping that my efforts would have had better results. Now I'm just going to start googling around to see what percentage of people with osteoporosis actually break their bones. I'm hoping the news will be good and not make me any crazier than I already am. In the meantime, I'm on the couch nursing a bad back, and the sun is shining here for the first time in weeks with temps in the high 70s. It's a heatwave, I tell you, a north coast heatwave!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

Holding The World In Our Hands

This photo makes me think we are holding the world in our hands. It tells a long story of love and family.
Here we are. My second cousin Gabi and me here in Arcata skyping with  his mother Pili in Israel. I hadn't met Gabi before but he, his wife Tsilla and their son Sol drove up from southern California for Sol's sophomore year here at the university. We met on Sunday and had brunch together. This is who we are and how we are related. Gabi and I share the same great-grandmother, Grossmutter (in german) Minna. His grandfather and my grandmother were brother and sister. His father Micha and my mother were first cousins. In 1921 my grandmother left Germany and came to America. Her mother and brothers stayed. She never saw them again. The family perished in the Holocaust.

Many, many years later we were stunned to discover that Micha, one son of my grandmother's brother, had survived. On the day his family was being rounded up and taken away, Micha was not home. When he got home he was told by neighbors to run for his life, and so he did. He ended up in Israel, where he got married and started a family. No one in the family who had already come to America knew there was a survivor. In the late 1970s or early 80s, a distant family member (living in California) with the same last name as Micha made an announcement of his 80th birthday in an Israeli newspaper. The name launched the search for reaching out and reconnecting with family.  I wrote this poem about it more than 25 years ago.

when the letters stopped coming
they assumed he had perished
along with the rest of his family
their innocent flesh and bone
transformed to ash and smoke
that billowed out of the stacks
and settled on the earth, a devil-made dust

and, for fifty years it was so
until he, alone was found
alive in Israel
my mother's first cousin
only survivor of the ones
who stayed behind
who believed it could not happen

his American family
rejoiced in the discovery
rummaged through old boxes
laying hands on letters
not touched for a half century
and searched for the photograph to send
of him and his mother
taken in time
when their posing and smiling made sense

when he held the photo and gazed at her face
his tears alone were enough to keep Israel green
when he touched her writing on the back
the place where she rested her hands
wrote her hopeful, lilting lettering
this was a coveted and precious thing
one he would bring to his lips and kiss many times
and then, recite the words, her written words
as holy as any prayer 

And now, all these years later, Micha's son Gabi and I are standing in our backyard in Arcata, holding a smart-phone and Skyping with his mother Pili in Israel. We are all connected, aren't we? Not just technologically, but all the way down to our bones and cells. We humans, we are holding the world in our hands. I have wished all of my life that we would hold it like we are one family.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday

I could rant about the tragedy unfolding in our country right now. To say we are blown away and heartbroken would be an understatement. What we have become in a few short months is far more devastating and shocking than anything we could have imagined. But instead of going on with all of that, I'd rather post this. A simple photo of my mother enjoying a cookie, because this is what actually brings me some joy (photo taken by my sister on August 13th!).

Monday, August 14, 2017

When Lousy Weather Is A Good Thing

We've had overcast foggy skies for more than  a week. It hung over us with relentless dimness, a shadowless gray that stretched as far as the eyes could see. Day unfolded to night with just a lowering of the gray scales until fully dark. I haven't photographed much of anything for so long, and yet I am not disappointed. What could I possibly post here that could balance the madness that grips our country? I am sitting on a Sunday afternoon typing these words, feeling slightly post-traumatic stressed. I can't think of a single beauty that would balance the unleashed hatred that spilled blood in the streets of Charlottesville. My older brother had talked of going to the rally to protest. We marched together in the streets of Newark, NJ in the late 1960s protesting the war in Vietnam. I called him Saturday morning to check in with him and make sure he wouldn't go. He lives only a half hour drive away. He said he had re-thought it and wouldn't go. He knew it would be dangerous, and it was.

Who are we? Why do we still have these same battles year after year, century after century? I'm tired of seeing arms raised in the Nazi salute, swastikas, torches burning, and the signs of the Klan, alt-right symbols and all the newly adopted signs of hatred of our modern world. Who are we?

On Saturday we went to a garage sale. When we walked up the driveway the woman sitting there gave me one of those looks. What look was that? The one that said "Oh you brown-skinned person, why are you here on my driveway?" We looked around and then left. When we walked away I said to Roger, "I really don't like that woman." He said, "Why?" I said because of the way she looked at me. He said, "Oh yeah, that, she didn't look at you in a friendly way at all." 

 Who are we?

Okay, so here's one photo. I'm pretending that the birds are shouting. "Who are you? Who are you? Please stop with the violence and hatred. Please."

PS:  We had to turn on comment moderation for the first time because some unknown comment-bot was leaving ridiculous comments.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What The Caregiver Said

On Wednesday my mom moved into the next level of memory care at the assisted living facility. It was a hard day. Her furniture did not fit quite as well as it did in the previous apartment. She was a bit frantic. She told my brother that she was anxious and upset. My siblings and I were full of despair over it. We understood that she needed to be there, that her desire to wander required a locked and secured wing. She even said to my brother, "Everything is locked here." We emailed back and forth. We lamented the turn of events. We wondered if there could've been another way.

On Thursday I took a chance and called the facility and asked to talk to my mother. I braced myself for sadness. When she answered the phone she said, "Hello Robin.." in that voice, that calm slightly out of it voice. She was okay. She told me she slept well. She was fine. "Was the move yesterday? I don't remember." Wow, a sigh of relief.

My brother spoke to the caregiver on Thursday and this is how he wrote of their conversation:

The caregiver just returned my call and spoke to me about her contact with mom yesterday. She said she's already developing a relationship with mom. At one point mom saw her in the hallway and mom said, "A familiar face." And the caregiver replied, "I have been waiting for you for a long time." 

Later mom went to her office and "B" invited her to sit down so mom sat with her while she worked.
Our hearts felt calmer knowing that the caregiver was there taking care of our mom. She is in good hands and hearts right now. We can't ask for anything more. Well, we could, but magic and wishes don't make Alzheimer's go away. Sigh.

We thank you all for your kind words and support. Sometimes it takes a virtual village.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Time and Distance: The Physics of Love

In 1970, when my twin brother and I graduated from high school in New Jersey, my parents sold our home and moved the family to southern California. They wanted us to go to college in California, and they liked the idea of not having to put up with New Jersey winters anymore. So, my twin brother, younger sister, and a friend of our older brother's drove one of the family cars across country to start our new life. We had never been further west than Pennsylvania! We had never even gone camping before. It was quite a journey, with well-planned campsites in Ohio, Illinois, and Kansas and a lovely stop over in Longmont, Co at a beautiful hippie commune. We made it to southern California and our eyes began to tear from the smog. Seriously. We had never experienced anything like it. That was in July. I applied for a job at some hippie art shop that was in Topanga Canyon half way between the San Fernando Valley and the Pacific Ocean. I hitchhiked to work. I trusted the world. And you readers of this blog know how that turned out for me. My experience of southern California was not a pleasant one. By May of 1971, I decided to head back to New Jersey and spent the summer trying to figure out what to do with the upheaval of my life. Then, I drove back to California, spent the winter of 1971-2 with my parents and left again moving north to Portland, Oregon. I never lived in southern California again. Why is any of this relevant? Because my parents stayed. And now, I have not lived near my mother for more than 45 years.
My dad helping build the cabin in southern Oregon
My parents and I visited each other every year, sometimes more than once depending on how close we were. They came to see the 10 acres of land I bought in southern Oregon in 1974 and even helped a bit with our little home-made cabin. They visited me in Boulder, Colorado many times, when my then-husband was the videographer for the CBS affiliate, and I was a student. On one road trip, they went on to Mount Rushmore and then across country to see the east-coast family.  A few years later they came to see me in Rhode Island when that same then-husband had a job at the university and I was in graduate school. I like to think that my restlessness helped them see our beautiful country.
Roger's mom, my parents, and us in Capitola 1991
In 1988, I moved back to California and conveniently moved in with my twin brother and his wife in Santa Cruz while I nursed my broken heart after that crazy marriage ended. I met Roger on New Years eve that year, and we stayed in Santa Cruz until 2004. That was the longest I had stayed in one place since I graduated from high school. Sixteen years. An amazing thing for me. This blog has chronicled our moves since then. Santa Cruz to Port Townsend (2004-2008). Port Townsend to Arcata (2008). Arcata to Santa Cruz (2008-2009). Santa Cruz to Grass Valley (2009-2014). Grass Valley to Arcata. Here. Now. Happy. Not moving.

Still, even with all the distance and moving, there is something about love that seems to have bridged all of it. I often think of my grandmother when I am lamenting how far I live from my mother in this waning time of her life. My grandparents came from Germany to this country in 1921. My grandmother left her mother and two brothers and their families in Leipzeig. The only communication they had after that was letters written that crossed the Atlantic. They never saw each other again. There really are things that we can do with pen and paper that carries the heart as far as you can send it. When I think of my mother, I think of all the cards I have sent her in the past three months. Once a week, a love letter and a photo of something beautiful. They were all in her room when we visited last month. She looks at them and re-reads them. Letters are tangible love. Love, love, love in the land of time and distance.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

74 + 1

last year i wrote a post for my birthday labelled “74.”

so. another year older and not deeper in debt.

the decimal system prompts us to pay more attention to numbers ending in zero, and to a lesser extent, ending in 5. but this particular year ending in 5 is surely more worthy of attention than 65 or 55, because it is also 3/4 of a century. i have been alive for 3/4 of a century! and yet, whenever i am it is always now.

some times i think that the weight of the past, all of it, good and bad, is what slows us down as we pass from a now of youth to a now of old. it’s just that there is so much of it. new stuff doesn’t always find room in our memory even though old stuff is almost perceivably fading.

obviously i am no wiser than last year. hopefully not less wise.

my skin has not grown thicker. quite the opposite. i mean my actual dermis. it tears and punctures more easily than it did last year. as i am a bit clumsy my arms and hands suffer continual wounds. on the bright side the very same dermis heals nicely. also my blood pressure is still high enough to warrant treatment. though, despite my doctor’s disapproval, i do eschew meds on days when my blood pressure is close to normal.

i’m not complaining though. working in the garden, walking on the beach or in the forest, seeing my family, and living pretty much 24/7 with my wonderful wife robin keeps me busy and happy.

i just reread last year's post. i will update my conclusion. it has become a much much stranger trip.

and the furry freak brothers are still right on.

Monday, July 31, 2017

End of July Photos

I got my computer back last Thursday. I had a chance to look at the photos I took on the trip south to see my mom. Lots of cloud photos in Capitola, and then birds here at home. So here they are. (The Cooper's Hawk was perched on our front gate, and the rainbow rays were from the highway photos.)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rebuilding A Mountain

Back on April 26th, a landslide came down and blocked both lanes of Highway 101, the major route in and out of Humboldt County. A traveler that day videoed the event. The winter rains had been playing havoc with the roads for months, which is why there were already work crews there trying to keep the highway open with at least one lane of traffic. This, of course, closed it down completely for a while. When we headed south on July 13th, this part of the highway was still down to one lane of traffic, with up to 40 minute delays while workers attempted to shore up the side of the mountain.
It was a beautiful sunny day while we waited with other travelers, parked along the Eel River. That patch of brown mountain is where the slide came down. While we waited, we heard a helicopter approach and looked up to see this.
The helicopter was bringing metal netted sheeting to be place on the side of the mountain in an effort to secure it and to keep it from rock-sliding down again on to the already beleaguered highway. We watched as it lowered these strips to workers hardly visible on the mountainside.
The pattern seemed to be to do four helicopter deliveries, and then let the traffic go through. So we just watched and waited our turn for the call for south traffic to come ahead. A very nice employee drove along telling everyone, "Get ready to start your engines!"
How's that for a long, arduous day's work?
Our return trip was on a Sunday, so we didn't get to see any work being done. There are traffic lights installed at both ends of the work zone, letting the traffic pass north and south, one lane at a time. The work is supposed to go on until October, when the winter rains could begin again.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Some People Break Computers...

... and I'm one of them. It's true. I have broken every computer I've owned, and I don't know how or why. I am very careful. I turn my computer off at night. I have different passwords for every site. I back up regularly. Still, they break one after another. Last year Roger put a Solid State hard drive in my old MacBook Pro. It worked great for about six months and then it started to do some wacky things. Instead of "going to sleep" it would go into a coma every time. I had to restart every few minutes. It was getting completely unusable. So, we decided to just buy me a new computer. That was in June. It was a nice new MacBook Pro, much lighter than my old one, and quite speedy. I liked it very much. When we were on the central coast last weekend, I was showing my twin brother and sister-in-law some photos on the computer. I looked away for one second and then looked back. Suddenly, there was a vertical pink line straight down the center of the screen. It was weird. So, I restarted the computer, thinking it was a temporary glitch. Nope. It came right back and stayed. Sometimes the line was a light green. Still, it was always there, strangely distracting. So, when we got back home, we brought the computer to the local Mac repair shop. I handed the computer to the guy behind the counter and he turned it on. He said, "Uh-oh." I said, "Uh-oh." He said that looks like a manufacturer problem. "You'll have to leave that with us for a few days to see what we can do." So I did.

All of the photos from the trip are on that computer sitting on a shelf at the repair shop. Yes, I have a backup, but my old Mac, which I'm using now (Roger put in the old hard-drive, and it's behaving for now) won't let me grab photos off of it. I wanted to post some of the beautiful cloud formations we saw over Monterey Bay. Luckily, I did post a photo on Facebook which I'll post here. It's one of my favorite moments of the trip. Anti-crepuscular rays, earth's shadow, and the Belt of Venus all in one shot. And, interestingly I didn't even notice that's what I was photographing that evening at sunset looking east. I had gone out just to photograph the very cool clouds.

Well, if things work out, I'll be able to share more of what we saw, but for now, it's just this photo on my very old computer. So, do you break computers or know someone who does? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Crossing The Golden Gate Home

We left Capitola early Sunday morning for the long (350 miles) trip home. We leave early with the plan to get through San Francisco and cross the Golden Gate Bridge by 9:30. The city gets so busy, crazy, crowded so fast and we have to drive through it on regular city streets (19th Avenue) to cross the bridge. Sunday mornings are best for zooming, so we zoom along. There is a vista point rest area just on the other side of the bridge. We stop there for some tea and toast that we pack along with us. And we take in the view. It's always beautiful no matter what.
It's just one of those places that takes your breath away, makes you glad that you've come this way and stopped for a bit of tea and toast. The fog was just hanging out over the entire city. We laughed about what Mark Twain didn't really say, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." I really wished he had said that, but Snopes said he didn't. It's true nonetheless.

Thank you all for you wonderful heartfelt and uplifting comments on the post about our visit with my mom. It really helps to share these stories of her journey. I called her when we arrived back in Arcata to let her know we were safely home. She actually answered the phone. She sounded sweet and lovely and wispy and full of love. I told her that I would be sending her homemade cards again, now that we're here. She said, "I love your cards. I can't wait." I think I'll send her this.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Our Visit So Far

We arrived on Sunday and went to see my mom in the Memory Care unit of the Assisted Living facility. She was sitting in her recliner, resting. When she opened her eyes and saw us, she gave us the sweetest smile and warmest greeting. She remembered who we were. She had been having a bad day, the kind of day that worried the staff there.
Roger photographed my mom and me together. I was so happy to have my arm around her shoulders and our hands together like this. So much love, so much love.
I photographed Roger with her. It was a wonderfully playful moment. Roger pointed at the camera and told her to look there. She thought it would be funnier to just point with him. So good to laugh with her.

On Monday the phone rang at my sister's telling us that the facility thought my mother's behavior had changed so much before we arrived on Sunday that it warranted a trip to the ER. They told us, "If you don't take her, we'll call 911." Well alright, we said, we'll take her. And that's what we did.
We picked her up and spent the next 5 1/2 hours in the ER with her. Turns out Monday's are their busiest day, and the hospital we took her to is the local trauma unit. So, while we waited, people arrived in various stages of bloody messes, and others arrived via ambulances and helicopters. It was quite a scene. Eventually, we were put in a room that was also a bit of a storage room where staff came in to get hot blankets out of a large heater, and a giant cupboard full of hospital stuff. One nurse came in to check every item in that cupboard for expiration dates and toss to the floor all the things that were out of date. He was not on duty to be mom’s nurse, but he just couldn’t help himself, so he helped her use the commode twice. He brought Roger and me some food, and after my mom had her CT scan, he brought her pudding, apple juice, and Cheezits. He was THE BEST. We laughed with him and had a good time. That made a huge difference. She had the CT scan to see if she had had another stroke. Negative. So, we waited to be released and took her back to the facility. It was quite a day. 

On Tuesday we brought her to my sister's so she could spend a few hours with her great-grandson. It was adorable in every way. My mom laughed. The baby laughed. There was a lot of cooing and sweetness. What more could we ask for? Not much... except maybe to have my mom back with her full cognitive skills. She's so gone, farther than I thought possible. Still the love remains.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Words On A Wednesday

On Thursday we start the long drive south to see my mom. It's 700 miles (1126.5 km). We're going to stop in Capitola for the weekend and then continue on to the land of blistering heat. Looking forward to spending a few days seeing with our own eyes how she is doing. I did get to talk with her on Monday, and it was startlingly wonderful. She picked up the phone when I called and said, "Hello Robin, I got it on the second ring!" It brings tears to my eyes just to type those words. The week before when she called me, she said in that vague and wispy voice, "Hi Robin, I'm waiting for the man to take me home." That broke my heart in every way. So who will we see when we get there? I don't know, but I know she's going to recognize Roger right away. She loves him so much.
Sea Lions in November 2013
We're looking forward to the few days we'll have at the beach house. We never know what we're going to see out those windows on to Monterey Bay, but we know it is always beautiful in every way. It's the best respite for us to split the trip south and north with time to stare out at the water hoping to see dolphins and whales, sea lions and seals, or maybe thousands and thousands of shearwaters.
Or maybe we'll watch paddleboarders among the pelicans, amazed by the awesome beauty of our planet.

We'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 10, 2017

This Is Our Balance

How are you doing it? Staying sane in these times. Do you avoid the news? Avoid Facebook? Avoid thinking all together? We're having a bit of a struggle these days. We've always liked to stay informed, but suddenly it all feels like too much. Just typing those words reminded me of this cartoon I've seen floating around the internet these past few weeks and months.
One of the things that works for us to maintain our sanity (such that it is) is to take long walks. A couple of miles a day really helps to balance the things we know are going on, but don't really want to delve into too deeply. We breathe in the ocean air and exhale the mind-numbing reality that is our country these days.
A scene like this, the marsh on Sunday, the sky blue, the air calm, the duckweed vibrantly green across the whole pond; this is our balance.
Further along the trail the lake is covered in algae, more than we've seen here over the years. The colors remind me of a map of the world, stretched out before us like a beautiful reminder of our earth. This is our balance, the place we take our steps, our breath. This.

It occurred to me after I put this post together to search the blog on the word "balance." Interesting how often in the past few years I've posted something about seeking balance from the onslaught of the challenging world. It also occurred to me that the other thing Roger and I do to balance the insanity is we have wine, wonderful organic red wine from the wine country of California. Roger suggested our new motto: Wine or whine, that's your choice!