Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Some People Break Computers...

...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!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: One Day--Near and Far

Ctenucha rubroscapus

Beach walk

Monday, July 03, 2017

Sunday At The Marsh

We finally got out to marsh on Sunday for a nice long walk, and it occurred to me that perhaps I haven't mentioned that there is a lot of construction being done out there all week long. The only time for a quiet walk is on weekends. They're building a bike/hike trail from Arcata to Eureka (7 miles) that goes through the marsh. It's going to take until October to get the marsh part done. So, we wait until quiet Saturdays and Sundays to head out. When we arrived at 2:00 pm the foggy mist was rising off the low tide bay.
Yes, as I mentioned in the previous post it has been foggy overcast gloomy here. This is actually a bright moment! Seriously, it warmed up to 61 degrees. We were HOT out there with our wool sweaters and flannel shirts. The sun made a brief and beautiful appearance.

We did get to watch this Egret for a while as it hunted for food.
It was interesting to watch it scratch at the wet mucky sand, stirring it up and causing the inhabitants to become more apparent for a meal.

We hadn't seen anything like it before. We've watched them hunt, but never noticed an action to encourage a meal to present itself. Pretty smart behavior.

Then we came home and the brief hour of sunlight faded to an expanse of gray white skies that stretched on to forever.

Friday, June 30, 2017

End of Gloomy June Photos

Too much sun, as if there is such a thing!

Front Gate and Wisteria
A marsh pond on a sunny day

Cirrus, Halo, Sundog, and hints of a Parhelic Circle
The view from the Top of Trinidad Head looking north

A little earthquake shake-up on June 11th

A slightly bigger earthquake on June 24th
Yes, we live in earthquake country! These are small, but they definitely give us a jolt and a good shake-up call. The blue dot on the map shows where we live and how close we were to the epicenter.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Just The Little Things

Sometimes it's good to just concentrate on the little things and let the world be quiet for a moment or two.

Monday, June 26, 2017


well first i will spare you the boring story of painting two bathrooms. as i forgot to take before photos it would be anticlimactic to show after pictures.

i am sure that at least some of you have noticed that many bathroom paint jobs leave a small unreachable area behind the toilet tank unpainted. we first painted the spare bathroom and i decided to go whole hog and removed the tank so the bright yellow paint would cover the ugly brown entirely. (really! both bathrooms in brown. with white spots behind the toilet tanks). when the yellow was complete i put the tank back on the stool using the same bolts and washers.

so i was as finicky doing the larger bathroom. removing the toilet tank so i could paint that hidden spot. i put the tank back in place, just as i had in the other bathroom. but this time when i turned on the water one of the rubber washers that is supposed to make the tank waterproof failed. oops. small mopping ensued. small problem really. a trip in the am to the local hardware store would fix that with new washers.
the problem area. not the water connection on the left, the bolt on the right, which goes up through the tank. it has a large screw head which tightens on a large rubber washer, which was leaking.

as i fell asleep i remembered that i had a plumbing parts box that might have the exact washers i required.

et viola! the parts box has two bolts and 4 nuts and washers. i need only two washers. i have spares to spare!
 actually a toolbox with some parts.

oops again. wrote too soon. the spares are of course used and no better looking than the original. back to square one. one more try with the old washer.

well ok then. the proper amount of tightening results in no leak! bathroom is operational with bright yellow walls in place of drab brown.

and i really had to show the "raincoat yellow."

PS (from Robin)-- You know how gray it is here on the north coast, so we went with bright bright yellow. Turn the light on in the bathroom and it's like a burst of beautiful sunlight in there.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Photos And Words On A Wednesday

Roger looked out the sliding door to the yard and said, "There are so many feathers falling from the sky, you've got to see this." We walked outside and the yard had feathers everywhere. There were other doves on the wires behind the house and none seemed alarmed. We have no idea how or why feathers tumbled from the sky to us. These came to rest at the top of our summer peas.
 The swallows decided on Tuesday that they should start building a nest right next to our front door. We told them "no," and deterred them by hanging things that we knew they wouldn't like. This is the look we got. We said, "Sorry, we understand it's a great spot, but no nest here by the door, thank you."
The house next door to us has been vacant for five (or more) years. The rainy winter and spring brought forth a new burgeoning ecosystem that the birds, butterflies, and critters all seem to enjoy. I have dreams of the blackberry vines going up over the roof. It really could happen!

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Minus Tide On A Sunny Day

It has been a rather dreary time here on the north coast. Many many days of relentless fog, or what the weather service calls "overcast." It casts a gray dismal shroud over everything, blocking the sun for days at a time. Sometimes I wonder just how powerful that almighty sun really is. I think, "C'mon, it's just a bunch of watery bleak droplets between me and you, how can you not shine through this stuff?" But that's the way it goes here. So when the sun does shine its unbelievably bright rays of warmth and light, we are ready to head out for a walk. There was a nice little minus tide that coincided with a sunny morning the other day, so we said, yippeee let's go to Trinidad. We've walked the minus tide beach there many times, and it's always wonderful. When we arrived this time, it was WINDY. A serious wind blowing in, so we decided to hike up Trinidad Head to see how the view was from up there. Here's a photo of Trinidad Head I took last January from a beach about a mile or so south.
Here's what it looks like while hiking up the trail on Trinidad, looking north.You can see the beach where we would have been walking if it had been a calm day.
When we got to the top we had a wonderful expansive view. It wasn't windy, and it was beautiful in every way. Roger heard sea lions barking, and there was a halo around the sun. A truly splendid moment.
Then, we headed down around the other side toward the harbor. The light was perfect on the water that day.
We decided to walk down to the harbor and out on the wharf to see if there were any river otters hanging around. We saw them there a few years ago and were hoping to see them again. But they weren't around. We did get to see the wonderful pattern left in the sand by the retreating tide.
We love being reminded just how awesomely beautiful our planet is. Here is just one small spot on earth on one blue-sky day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Do Doves Exercise?

It was early in the morning, and I was waiting for the kettle to boil for tea. I looked out the window and saw this dove. Photos through a window are never the best...but placed together they answer the question.

Yes they do, and then they take a little nap!

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Eighth Day

When I first moved out of my parent's house and hit the road in the early 1970s, I called them every Saturday morning from wherever I was. Back then I had to find a phone booth and gather a whole lot of coins to make that happen, or I would call them collect. There was no way a Saturday passed without a conversation. My dad always answered the telephone on those Saturday calls. Then, I would talk to my mother. It became a ritual, and I made those Saturday morning calls for more than 20 years. Then, when my father was diagnosed with primary liver cancer, I started calling them everyday. After he passed away in 1992, I continued to call my mother daily. That lasted until she sold her home in 2012 and moved to her first assisted living facility. Then, I started calling her twice a day, once at 9:00 am and once at 4:00 pm. It was our ritual that we adhered for the past five years, until the vascular dementia and Alzheimer's. As I type this I have not spoken to my mother in eight days. I have left messages for her everyday on her answering machine, which I know she won't listen to. When she tries to get her messages, she almost always inadvertently turns the machine off.

It's the longest I have ever gone in my life without talking to her.

Eight days.

My sister visits with my mom regularly and reports to us how she is doing, but it's just not the same. I would like to hear her voice, even if it makes no sense when we talk. In fact if I remember correctly one of the last times we talked she wanted to talk to the "other Robin." Oh right, the other Robin, the one without gray hair who used to call on Saturdays as she traveled across the country and Canada. Yeah, as my mother also says, "the fake Robin."
My mom went to a memorial for her sister-in-law last weekend. She got to see her brother and niece and nephew. It was lovely for her to reconnect with them. Yeah, she didn't make perfect sense when she talked, but the love was there.
So, while I wait to hear her voice, I've been out walking, photographing clouds, and trying to forget the world, and embrace our beautiful planet instead.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Do I See A Frog?

Why yes, yes I do!

Monday, June 05, 2017

These Times We're Living In

We've been out taking walks to divert our attention from the unfolding nightmare that is our country at the moment. There are simply no words to describe our utter shock and dismay about the times we are living in.

So, here's what we've been looking at. Ah, we always say thank you to the earth for providing us with this awesome beauty.

This is Arcata Bay at a low-ish tide. Not even the lowest tide of the day. The algae is definitely in full bloom here. The colors are so vivid against that blue blue sky.
The tidal channel flowing back out to the ocean.
A wonderful illusion of a bay in the distance. This reminded us so much of Monterey Bay, but it is all only sky and cloud beyond the green pastures.

When I think about the times we are living in, I am always reminded of this song by Kate Wolf. She sings, "We've only got these times we're living in..." At the moment, that's a bit of a bummer.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: We Asked

They wouldn't tell us.