Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

More Halos and Arcs

I walked down the street on Sunday afternoon to check out a garage sale. I was talking to the two women there, one was the neighbor and the other was her friend who had brought stuff to sell. We were chatting about grandkids, toys, earrings, and barrettes. That's when I looked up at the sky. I saw something I had never seen before. It looked like a 22 degree halo, except it wasn't around the sun; it was ghostly white; and it was in the northern sky. I looked at them and said, "I see an atmospheric optic that I have to go photograph. Bye." And I literally took off running home. I try to imagine what it must have looked like for my neighbors to see me, the daily walker, out there trotting to the house. Crazy I tell ya, absolutely crazy. But here's what I saw.
I know this pale arc doesn't look like much. But I've never seen anything like it. Yes, there was a 22 degree halo in the sky, but it was exactly where it was supposed to be, wrapped around the sun with all its lovely colors in the southern sky. It was opposite the pale display.
Oh, and there was a circumhorizon arc below the colorful 22 degree halo as well. You see why I was running home to get the camera. I have no idea what that pale arc was. I am planning on sending the image to Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics. I'm sure it's some Parhelion something or other, but I truly don't know. I know you know, I love a good atmospheric mystery.
The circumhorizon arc stretched across the southern sky. It was awesome. Definitely the kind of thing you run home for, I think! That, and mysteries.

And then it was all gone.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Arcata Arcs

It had been a while since I'd seen so many arcs and halos like this. I think the last time was three years ago when we were still living in the foothills. Always a surprising joy to see such a thing. It doesn't last long, but the moment lasts a lifetime. I knocked on the neighbor's door so the kids could come out and take a look. They loved it. It's good to know there will be a new generation of fans of the atmospheric beauty of our skies.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Moon and Dove

I had a lovely birthday, and I thank you for all the good wishes. I did get to talk to my mom and she said, "I'm sorry I forgot your birthday." I said, "You didn't forget, there's still time to say 'happy birthday, Robin' to me, and I'll love it." She said it with the most loving joy in her voice. And then she asked me if it was someone else's birthday as well. She remembered! So I gave her Michael's telephone number, and when she was writing it down and repeating it to me it reminded me of something that happened just the other day. I posted about it on Facebook. Here's the post:
The phone rang. Roger answered it. I heard him say, "You have the wrong number." Then he said it again. Then he said our phone number to the caller. I was thinking, "Yikes, what kind of new phone scam is this?" He hung up and said that it was an old woman looking for her daughter. He felt bad for her. Then the phone rang again. I answered it. it was the old woman, and she really was looking for her daughter and it was not my mother looking for me. The woman told me that her daughter lives in Ohio and repeated the phone number. Yup, our number, but she didn't know that she had to dial the area code. So, I asked her where her daughter lives. She said Cincinnati, or maybe Akron. I looked up both cities and found three area codes. I had her write them down and read them back to me. She was very confused. We did it several times until she had the numbers straight. I wished her good luck and told her to call us again, if it didn't work out. I hope all confused seniors find a cooperative sad daughter at their wrong numbers.
I told my mother the story, and she loved it so much. When she called my brother to wish him a happy birthday she told him that I had just told her such a wonderful story.

Ah love. It can be such a heartbreak sometimes. Full of joy and tears, joy and tears.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Twins Are 65

Today my twin brother Michael and I celebrate our 65th revolution around the sun.

We went from this:


1956 or 1957
 To this:

In the blink of an eye! I'm pretty sure we are senior citizens, although we're still total goofball kids at heart.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sunday, May 07, 2017

She Went A-Wanderin'

Well, we learned the statistical probability of Alzheimer's behavior the other day when my mom managed to escape the 24/7 Board and Care facility and wander out on to the suburban streets of the neighborhood she hardly knows. Sixty-percent of Alzheimer's sufferers will wander, and sadly 50% of them not found within 24 hours will suffer serious injury or death. On the beautiful, hot spring day my mother managed to find a way out, pushed her walker beyond the cul-de-sac on to another street and continued walking. A woman in the neighborhood saw her and thought she looked unsteady and confused, so approached her and struck up a conversation. She thought my mother definitely needed assistance and called the police. The police came and questioned her. My mother knew her name, but not where she lives. She knew my sister's name, but not how to contact her. It took the police about an hour to find my sister's contact number and call her. Imagine getting that phone call. My sister was utterly devastated to hear the police say they had our mother in the back of their car, that she had escaped from the facility and needed assistance.

Luckily, all was okay. My sister picked her up and took her to her house rather than back to the 24/7 care facility. My mother was dehydrated and exhausted. She slept for several hours before my sister took her back to the facility. So, of course, now we're looking at other facilities that have more onsight care and a true safe environment that can't be fled. We had already been considering moving her to a place where there is more mental stimulation, at least more than a TV turned on in the living room for distraction. My mother needs engagement in all ways... music, dancing, card games, and conversation. She needs staff who are completely skilled in the ways of personal resistant behavior, and not perplexed or stymied by the answer "No" to every suggestion of personal care.

Lately my mother has been saying that she wants to go home. We try to make sense of it, wonder what it meants for her... a place? a time? her former brain? death? But in researching wandering behavior I found this:
I learned that people suffering from Alzheimer's want to go back -- back home. It doesn't matter if they are at home. They yearn to go home.

I get email all the time from readers telling me they are being driven nuts because their loved one wants to go home.

A word to the wise is sufficient. When they start saying this get your eyes and ears open. They might decide to try and make it home on their own --
they are ready to wander.
My mother continues to try and find ways out of the house. The restlessness and desire to wander is a hallmark of Alzheimer's, as is resistant behavior. I cannot tell you how tragic and heartbreaking this has been for my family. There are no words to convey this ongoing loss.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Monday, May 01, 2017

Minus Tide and Good Weather

We know you know how much we love this combination, a fantastic minus tide (-1.6) and a day without rain or wind. Both were predicted for the weekend. We couldn't wait for Saturday and Sunday morning to come.
On Saturday we headed north to Trinidad Beach. The lowest tide was at 8:30 am, and we got there a bit before. We started walking north, heading to the urchin-mussel-anemone covered rocks. Interestingly we were surprised by how high the sand was here. Much like it was in Capitola when we were there in March. These mussels (above pic) are on a rock that we can't see because of the high sand. We don't remember seeing it like this before.
We continued walking and came to where the usually drought low creek runs. Guess what? It was no longer a barely noticeable trickle anymore. Getting across this was a fun, wet, sandy mess of a challenge. We had a good laugh when our sneakers filled with water and we got wet above our ankles.
We actually crossed it a bit closer to where it flows into the ocean. It was fun to run across.
We were headed over to the other side of the rock to see the all the seaweed. It's always such a crazy bright color.
Not much wildlife out there, but plenty of stunning beauty to keep us happy. We headed back to the car after coming this far out. We got nice and wet on the way back and laughed about it all the way home.

On Sunday morning we headed south to the North Spit jetty. I've written about that here before. It's quite a walk out to the end of that. We don't get out there very often, but something always surprises us when we do. First, we saw a bunch of crabs that ran and hid all along the rocky north side of the jetty. I thought they were quite photogenic.
It really is a challenge to walk to the end of the jetty. It is crumbling, weather-beaten, time-worn mess. We persisted and made it all the way to the end. That's when I thought I saw something by the south spit. I thought I saw a whale. It was huge and had just barely come up to the surface before it went down again. We watched for a while, and it didn't come back up. We did see some harbor porpoises, as well, and that made us pretty happy. We started walking the long walk back when a woman heading to the end of the jetty stopped us and said, "Hey, did you see that whale?" YES! Confirmation. I really did see a whale. So we waited a while longer just staring into the mouth of the harbor when it briefly surfaced again!
It went down way too fast for me to get a photo, but I did capture this image of where that whale had been. You can just make out the shape of its long beautiful, awesome body. The woman told us that it was a Gray Whale with a calf. We were absolutely thrilled. When we walked back to the car, the few people who were out there fishing each said to us as we passed by, "Hey did you see that whale?" Yes, yes we did, we saw it! Awesome, indeed.

We love a minus tide and good weather.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Saving The Dahlias

We love our dinner-plate dahlias. They wowed us all last summer with their huge beauty. Two weeks ago the tubers started pushing up green leaves through the soggy winter soil, getting ready for spring. But something at night started eating EVERY SINGLE LEAF they put out. So, we did this every night and then freed them in the morning.
That worked so well, in just a few days they grew too tall for our glass jars.
So we did this.
Covered them at night with big plastic grow-pots, and rocks to keep the wind from blowing them over.
 And they responded quite well to the night protection by getting taller and taller.
In just a few days they looked like this. We plan to keep covering them until they are too tall for the pots. It will be very soon.

Summertime, here we come!

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Few Thoughts

1. I'm writing these words on Sunday afternoon, the day after Earth Day and March for Science celebrations. I am somewhat dumbstruck by the very fact that we have to take to the streets for our planet and for science. SCIENCE! What is going on in our world? I said to Roger while we were out for our walk in the brief sunlit break between storms, "Shouldn't there be protest marches against Big Oil? Wall Street? The conniving thievery that is happening right before our eyes?" We need marches in defense of science? How is this possible? Why is this true? Please wake me up and tell me that it was all just a bad dream.

2. Donald Trump and I have something in common. It's ridiculously true. On the day he was sworn in, his 100-day countdown began, and so did mine. I suspect that his 100 days will be as empty as his cognitive skills, but mine will be fulfilled by finally getting my Medicare benefits. It's true, I will have me my socialized medicine. I can only hope that someday our country becomes enlightened and finally gets single-payer. But until then, Medicare, in one more week here I come!
I photographed the highway down to one lane in March.
3. We live in what is often referred to as "behind the redwood curtain." It's a 270 mile drive north from San Francisco to Arcata. The most direct and easiest route is Highway 101. The last 100 miles of the trip is through the redwoods and mountains. Some of it is two-lane winding, hairpin turns on the edge of a drop to the south fork of the Eel River. Speed limit 30 mph. Yes, it's typically a slow trip. Well, since the big rains of winter, there's been a stretch of that highway that was down to one lane because of a landslide. And since last weekend, there was an even bigger landslide that has completely closed the highway. Seriously. Food supplies and US mail are being re-routed to other crazy routes to get to us, on roads that have their own one-lane-traffic controlled brokenness. We asked our mailman the other day if he had noticed any changes, and he said yes. There are some things that are just not making it up here. Once the highway is opened, he said, you'll be getting lots of mail that is being held up. It's interesting being somewhat isolated at the moment. I told Roger, it sure would be a bummer if we had an earthquake now, wouldn't it? More rain in the forecast, although that almost goes without saying, doesn't it? (I remembered an old post from 2008 that Roger wrote about his travels on Highway 101. It's fun looking back. I sure wish we were using blogger for comments back then rather than Haloscan which disappeared in 2009. Sigh.)
Four Generations!
4. I don't get to talk to my mom as much as I would like to. We used to talk twice a day for years and years, but now I'm lucky if I get to talk with her twice a week. Her lucidity is not reliable at any given moment. But the sound of her voice, especially if I can make her laugh, is something as beautiful as a favorite song. On this Sunday afternoon my sister called me while I was typing this and said, "Call mom right now, she is in a great mood." So I called. She actually answered the phone and said, "Oh hello Robin, and how are you today?" I shouted "Mom..." with every bit of love I have in my heart. She said, "You know my phone doesn't ring much anymore." I told her that it's often hard to get a hold of her. She's not in her room all the time. She doesn't listen to her messages anymore. She doesn't really know how to make phone calls. I also told her that our phone doesn't ring much anymore either. She said,"I'll call you, and then I'll hang up. Okay?" We laughed and laughed. Oh, I just remembered that I forgot to write on the blog that my mom became a great-grandmother on March 24th!

5. If you have a gmail account, you may be surprised to know that every email you've ever sent or received is still available if you log in via a browser. Unless you have figured out how to delete things, check the category called All Mail. Our "robinandroger" account had over 24,000 items dating all the way back to August 2008, when we first set up our account. What a walk down memory lane that is.

6. These are the times we are living in.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Break In The Rain For Some Clouds

We have had a lot of rain this winter. Oh's spring, isn't it? Seriously, is it spring? We're still having so much rain, already past the monthly average to date. On Sunday morning I woke up and literally wished out loud for the drought to come back. Living with extremes is extremely exhausting. So, the somewhat bright side of such bleakness is the break in the clouds and all the beauty that comes with it.

On Wednesday it poured a good inch. The wind blew like crazy. It was cave-dark all day, but just before sunset this happened.

Less than fifteen minutes elapsed between the first photo and last, but it was fifteen minutes of the most beautiful light and clouds. I think there is even a mammatus cloud formation here. This was a wonderful way to end a very dark day.

On Thursday a brief respite brought us this heart.
On Friday we went out to the marsh for a nice long walk. We saw this cloud formation and weren't sure we'd get back before it poured on us. But we took our chance.

It was quite a sight, that ominous cloud. But we lucked out and didn't get rained on at all. The cloud headed off in a southeast direction and we could see from miles away the rain as it touched ground.

On Sunday, just before the rains began again, the sky at sunrise looked like this.
And then it did something interesting that I had never seen before. Not sure what kind of formation this it, but it preceded some light rain showers.

So, that's how things have been here. Our first rose of the season has bloomed. We have anemones, ranunculus and columbines flowering. The gaillardia are full of buds almost ready to blossom. I guess it really must be spring!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: DoveGate

Click to embiggen

Monday, April 10, 2017

Deleting The Moon

I noticed the other day that I had over 21,000 photos in my iPhoto folder on my computer hard-drive. I had, many years ago, transferred five years of photos (2005 to 2010) on to discs and deleted them from my computer, but I hadn't done a very good job of keeping the photos from piling up since then. Twenty-one thousand photos is a lot of photos to look over when trying to decide what to delete. I download every photo from my camera and only play around and edit the ones I like, but I NEVER seem to get around to deleting the ones that  are duplicate, useless, and poorly photographed. So, I have started this tiring, daunting, and crazy task of looking over these photos and deleting them.
Screenshot of the delete file. Good bye moon!
Here is a screen shot of the moon photos that I deleted on Saturday. How many photos of the moon, the moon and venus, the moon and mars, the moon full, the moon eclipsed do I need to have? I suddenly started wondering why I even photograph the moon, stars, and planets at all. I've looked at the photos. There ain't nothing there that hasn't been photographed a million times by a million photographers. It all looks the same.
Hello beautiful yellow moon.
Okay, there are a few exceptions, like this moon rise in Capitola. Look at the color! That is definitely a keeper. Or the moon with a 22 degree halo. So, once I decide to keep one, I have to decide which one.

Screenshot of photos I'll be considering deleting soon.
See what happens? Each of those 21,000 photos has to be looked at individually.That's true of every butterfly, dragonfly, moth, and spider that crossed paths with us and unknowingly posed for photos. Also true of every snowfall, sunrise, sunset, and rainbow. Then there are the mushrooms, flowers, tomatoes, and peppers, etc. Which one goes? Which one stays?
Screenshot of deleted froggies!
And then there are the animals. I have been looking at so many bird, deer, rabbit, frog (I was blown away by the number of frog photos I had) and otter (sea and river) photos trying to decide... this one or that one. I don't want to keep any that are simply redundant and I don't want to back up all the photos and decide later. I  am doing the work now to be done with it. But what a crazy task.

I began deleting photos from April 2010, and as of this writing I am now up to March 2012. Five years of photos to go, five years. Wish me luck!