Monday, November 13, 2017

700 Miles Later

We finally were able to make the journey south. We hit the road on Friday and drove 350 miles to Roger's family beach house. Roger has been coming to this house since before he was born. And now, he's been there every year for the past 75. I can't even imagine what that must feel like, 75 years of history in one place. It's always so beautiful there. The moment we walk in the door, I run and open the blinds and look out to the bay, then open the door to the deck and go out to breathe the ocean air. The 350 miles slip away in an instant. The ocean always says Be Here Now.
We woke Saturday morning to this lovely sunrise.
And later in the day walked down to the wharf and watched this Snowy Egret contemplating the tide coming in.
Sunday morning we headed south for the second half of the journey. It's another 350 miles, but very different from the first half of the trip. This one always has traffic jams in the last 75 miles that come to a full stop and inch along mile after mile. We're always so relieved to get out of the car and finally be done with it.

And then this happens, and all those miles just slip away. We go to see my mom in the memory care facility, and she was so happy to see us. It always makes our hearts soar to be with her. We're staying until Friday, so there will be lots of time for all this love.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Tuesday's Sky

We're expecting big rains over the next few days. Tuesday's sky told us this story.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Lookin' Out The Window

Life gets pretty small when you're sick. The view is limited. The perspective framed by glass and windowpanes. It had been foggy for days again, and then the rains came. It was boring as could be, but then I noticed this.
The yard was filling up with birds flitting about from fence to tree, from tree to garden and then back. I was delighted watching them. There were so many different species I was actually surprised. There were, of course, the usual hummingbirds and their territorial confrontations. It was this bird, the Fox Sparrow that caught my attention. At first I thought it was a Hermit's Thrush (and that's probably because my twin brother had just sent me a photo of the one he saw in his yard). So I got distracted by trying to identify it. That took time, and that was fun.
Then this lovely little Black-capped Chickadee showed up. It climbed up the tree trunk like a woodpecker, and even moved up and down the fence boards like a ninja. I loved watching it. It didn't stay still long enough for a good photo, but it took my attention, and that was fun.
I'd been noticing this Black Phoebe hunting insects in the yard for days. I love when it sits on the wheelbarrow wheel like this. I had the time to wait for it to pose, and when it did, I clicked. That was fun.

The next morning, before sunrise I saw the full moon in the western sky. Oh that halo was such a lovely sight after all the days of fog and rain. I grabbed the camera with my heart full of joy, and that was fun.

The sun came out. Oh, it was beautiful. I could see all the spider webs everywhere between the fence boards. We had no idea how removing every other fence board would create such lush spider habitat, but it did. They are such tireless little spinners. And their work is really quite lovely when lit by the morning sun. Yes, I had fun.
Even the tired old rose hips took on a look of webbed beauty after the spiders' spinning magic. I enjoyed the view even if it did remind me that I needed to go out and deadhead the roses again. Ah, when I'm feeling better I promised myself. And I will, and it will be fun.

PS- I'm getting better! My voice is a little raspy and I croak like a frog when I try to talk very much, but I am on the way to good health. Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful good wishes. I appreciated every word.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sidetracked By Life

Foggy foggy day at the marsh
We were supposed to be on the road heading south, but yet again the trip got sidetracked. This time it's by my suddenly very crappy health. I don't know why, but I have something that I have diagnosed as GERD via my relentless online sleuthing. This is a true painful burning fist in the chest bummer. Now I wonder about every bit of food I put in mouth. I wonder if I'm eating too much, eating too spicy, eating too acidic, eating too much chocolate (is there such a thing?), drinking too much wine (seriously I drink less than a full glass of wine that I DILUTE!)? I haven't figured out the triggers yet, but I'm definitely working on it. And, on top of that nightmare, I also seem to have picked up a nice little virus when I spent the morning at the hospital waiting for Roger to have his most-excellent colonoscopy. Scratchy throat, persistent cough, lots of sneezing and whining about everything.
Teasel with drops
I spoke with my mom and coughed my way through a conversation about why we weren't coming down, yet again. She said, "Please don't come until you are COMPLETELY better." I said, "Okay, mom." We had a delightful conversation. I asked her if she received the card I sent with the photo of Roger's homemade wooden sun. She said she had. She told me when we do come down she wanted Roger to sign the card as the "artist." We had a good laugh about that. I told her how much we miss her and love her. She said she knew. She said "Our whole family loves each other. We're a bunch of nuts!" We laughed about that too. I love laughing with her. It makes my day, especially when I'm feeling as crappy as I am right now.
Sweet potatoes
I had a different post partially written for today. Then I got sidetracked looking for family photos to post with it. It's about my older brother Marc who I hardly ever write about here. He lives in Virginia on his beautiful 80 acres where he gardens madly, raises cows and chickens, and cooks homegrown organic everything. The thing that inspired me was a photo he sent with a some of the 322 pounds of sweet potatoes he had harvested. It made me think about how he's lived on the east coast 3000 miles away all these past 45 years, and we hardly ever get to see him except for those rare full family gatherings. He's not much of a traveler and neither am I. But there is something about family love that truly spans the distance of time and space. So, expect to see that post in the near future.

Until then, I'm going to watch what I eat and hope for the best. Hey universe, I sure wouldn't mind a break, thank you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Words on a Wednesday

A rose bouquet on a single stem
Roger's colonoscopy went very well. No signs of lesions, cancer, or polyps. We are so relieved. The doctor even said if things stay as they are, Roger won't need another colonoscopy for FIVE YEARS!!! That news is like suddenly being set free. Five years seems so far into the future. He'll be 80 years old and I'll be 70. Tell me that doesn't sound like a million years from now!

So, the fires are out in the wine country, and Roger is well. You know what that means? Yes, a road trip south to see my mom. We'll be heading out sometime this coming weekend, spending a few days in Capitola at the beach house, and then down to the land of too-many-people too-many-cars southern California. At least we won't be there during the brutal heatwave they're experiencing right now. It's even hot here, 80+ degrees. That's CRAZY!
We cleaned up the garden and got it ready for winter. The tomatoes and zucchinis are all gone. We have kale, chard, and lettuce that will over-winter here. Flowers are blooming like wild out in the front yard. It surprises me that so late in October we still have so many dahlias and roses. The Lesser Goldfinches are taking every cosmos seed they can get their little beaks on, and even the hummingbirds are finding feasts out there.

All is good right now... well unless you turn on the news. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

modern medicine

i’m having a medical procedure done soon. in preparation i have to modify my diet a slight bit for a few days. nothing major or difficult, just avoiding certain foods. i also have to drink a weird cocktail of chemicals the day before. sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate.

i want a picture here but nothing relevant to this post. this is some of our garden heading into winter.

ok, the procedure is a colonoscopy and the chemicals are heavy duty laxatives. i got a coupon from the doctor’s office for up to 30% off whatever price i pay. i checked it out on the internet. anyone can print one.

so we go to the pharmacy, ask for the prescription, and put down the coupon. i am currently without drug insurance due to a hiccup in switching our medicare supplemental policies to a different provider. my 3 month supply of blood pressure meds went from $8 (insured) to $47 (uninsured). i hadn’t really thought ahead about the cost of laxatives. how much could it cost? about one hundred dollars is how much. my widely available coupon did save me 30%.

i wondered how much the ingredients of such super pooper stuff might cost. the package informed me that 6 oz of product contains 17.5 G sodium sulfate, 3.13 G of potassium sulfate, and 1.6G of magnesium sulfate. there are two 6 oz bottles.

after a whole 4 minutes of internet search i found that i could buy medical grade stuff pretty cheaply.

sodium sulfate 500G for $54.50. so 500/17.5 = 28 doses: $54.5/28 = $1.95 per 6 oz bottle.

potassium sulfate 250G for $53.40. so 250/3.13 = 79 doses: $53.40/79 = $0.67 per 6 oz bottle

magnesium sulfate 500G for $73.90. so 500/1.6 = 312: $73.90/312 = $0.24 per 6 oz bottle.

that’s $3.72 of ingredients in 2 6 oz bottles.

i know that presenting that product to me in a sanitary package involves a whole lot more than the ingredients. even so.

why i'm having a colonoscopy 

this will be my third colonoscopy after surgery and chemo. there were polyps but no cancer. i have also had 4 pet scans since surgery and nary a sign of a cancer cell.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

Not On The Road

Northern Pintail
I am writing this on Sunday afternoon. We were supposed to be on the road today, heading south to see my mom. We decided to cancel the trip and not drive through the fires that are/were raging.  We'll rethink our plans and probably go later in October. It's a long, long drive. One that starts out in the beautiful, cool, quiet not-very-populated redwood country and winds up 700 miles south in the arid hot overly populated land of 10 million people and even more cars of southern California.
Sunday's sunrise in the clear October morning sky
We did have one day of smoke here from one of the fires (Redwood Valley Complex), enough to darken the sky and turn that crazy sun red again. But mostly we have been spared the bad air days and nightmare that unfolded just a hundred miles south of us. Roger's sister and husband were evacuated for one day and night from a fire burning in the Sierra foothills. We have good friends who live in Sonoma County in the wine country. They posted regularly on Facebook how they were ready to evacuate whenever the call came. Their car was packed with photos, historical documents, clothes, and enough dog food for their three furry companions. Other dear friends waited in their homes, the air barely breathable, the fear palpable. They posted photos of found/lost dogs and even sadder photos of people looking for missing loved ones.  Fire season. There really is such a thing here in California. For some reason I thought it was over. We had already had our bad air days and dark smoky skies in September. October has been beautiful, cool, a bit windy. Ah that wind, it spread the fires everywhere; one spark led to another. Tragedy followed.
Homemade sun
We still make every attempt to balance the insanity of the world with as much beauty as we can find. Roger made this beautiful sun for our fence art project. He used wood scraps from the old deck. I'm trying to figure out how to make a heart and maybe some stars. It's how we try to stay sane.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sunday, October 08, 2017

I Had An Idea

It all started when I photographed the moon rising the day before it was full. It rose in a sky in that still had daylight, and I just loved the way it looked. I posted this photo on Facebook and wrote: In the utter bleakness of these times it seems almost ridiculous to me to run outside with the camera to see if the moon has risen. I wonder why I bother with such predictable lunar cycles, but I can't seem to stop. Then, I see this, and truly I know why.
Seeing this moon rise made me think about what it would look like when it set. It occurred to me that I haven't ever photographed a moonset, and how beautiful it might be to watch as it set into the Pacific. I checked a couple of sun and moon charts for times. The moon was supposed to set around 8:12 am the morning after the full moon. We had discovered that moon rises and set times are not quite as accurate as sunrise and sunsets, so planned to get to the ocean early just in case. It was exciting to think about what it would look like.
I woke Friday morning and photographed the moon in the still dark sky as it headed west to the sea. The sun rose in the clear eastern sky. It all looked perfect. We had our tea and toast and headed out for the short drive to the ocean. That's when I noticed it was hazy out there. The closer we got to the beach, the hazier and foggier it got. I could no longer see the moon anywhere. I had forgotten once again how the ocean has its own climate, and even if it's only two miles away, it will probably look and feel completely different out there. We stood on the shore and laughed how beautiful it still was, but not what we had come to see.

So we headed back home, but stopped at the ancient unused railroad tracks next to the bay to take a look at the low tide. The colors were enough to delight us in every way.

We saw these mounds of seafoam and pretended that they were our first view of icebergs. We loved it.

We're planning on trying to photograph the moon setting in the ocean again next month. Lucky for us, that moon, it's so predictable. And predictably, our hearts can be consoled by its beauty.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Imagine A Post Here...

...that actually conveys how we feel about what happened in Las Vegas. It would tell you the utter sadness we have felt since we saw the crazy, nearly unbelievable headlines. We read the stories, the analysis, the numbers. We read upbeat posts on Facebook that tried to lift our spirits. We stared at the faces of the dead, and tears literally rolled down our cheeks.

Imagine a post here that tells you about my niece who woke up Monday morning and learned that a dear friend had been in Las Vegas at the concert and had been shot in the chest and survived, but had lost friends in the massacre. Or imagine my sister answering her phone in the middle of the night and hearing about a close friend whose daughter had been in the crowd with a friend and had crawled over bloodied bodies to hide under the bleachers.

Imagine a post here that believes all will be okay, that we will awaken and really see the insanity of these times, that good thinking AND GUN CONTROL will finally prevail... Hah!... now that really is an active imagination.


On a true Wordless Wednesday I had been planning to post this.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

From The Vista Point

After spotting the elephant seal in Trinidad Harbor, we decided to head home. Halfway between the harbor and home is a vista point. We stopped to take a look.
It was such a welcomed surprise to see the mouth of the Mad River was here again. This river mouth moves a bit, so we don't always get to have this grand view. While we were taking it all in, we took a closer look where the river meets the Pacific.
Hey, are those harbor seals lounging about, waiting for the tide to come? Why yes, yes they are!
We haven't seen these beauties here in quite a while. I guess the blue sky sunshiny day had us all out...the elephant seals, the harbor seals, and the giddy humans... all enjoying the warms temps and the tide coming in.

Friday, September 29, 2017

What Is That?

We saw this in the harbor at Trinidad, just 10 miles north of us.
I thought it looked like a very large seal in distress. I actually called the Marine Wildlife Center and reported it. They told me that in warm sunny weather, like the kind we'd been having the seals like to lounge spread out on the top of the water. They said to let them know if it comes out and appears ill on the shore. Okay, I said.

When we got home I downloaded the photos. I really wanted to see that seal, and if it looked like it had a green rope around it.
I looked at the photo and said, "Roger, I think we may have seen a hippopotamus." He looked at the photo and said, "That's an elephant seal!" We were so surprised. We knew it looked huge, but it did not occur to us that it would be an elephant seal.
This is a male lounging about enjoying the warm temps. And that green stuff that it looked wrapped in was just some seaweed.

Ah, not an emergency at all, and a surprising cool creature to watch in the surf.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Best Birthday Present

What could possibly be better than this?
Turning 92 years old and getting a birthday kiss from your great-grandson! (Thanks to my sister for capturing the perfect moment on Monday evening at our mom's birthday dinner.)

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?