Monday, January 15, 2018

Fire and Rain...and Mud

Highway 101, photo taken by CNN news
We had been planning the trip south to see my mom, and especially with her latest health issue of pleural effusion, we knew it should be soon. If you remember we had to reschedule a  journey in October because of the big wine country fire, and then my brother had to reschedule his journey because of the huge (biggest in recorded California fire history) Thomas fire. So of course, after the big fire came the one big destructive rain in central California. We waited for that to clear out and then came the mud. Seriously, part of the route we take from the family beach house to my mom's in Simi Valley is closed INDEFINITELY due to a mudslide. This is a mudslide on a road that sees 100,000 cars a day, Highway 101, a major California highway. So, we're having to remap our trip, take a significant detour and head east before we head back west. Has the world gone mad? I'm just curious.
The Golden Gate Bridge on a beautiful Saturday
We left our quiet peaceful home behind the redwood curtain and drove south on Saturday. We stopped at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge and drove up the winding road for a look. After all the times we have driven this route, we hadn't ever stopped there before. Well, it was crazy busy with cars, bicyclists, and joggers, but the view was worth every bit the effort. We'd like to try it again when it's not a Saturday afternoon on a three-day weekend. It really is so beautiful up there.

We're taking my mom for a procedure on Thursday to remove the fluid from her lungs, and then a short while later in the same hospital she is scheduled to have a CT scan. We'll know more some time after that. I'm hoping to write between now and then, but in case I don't... please wish us luck. And thank you for being such kind and supportive blogging friends. You help balance the madness of the world at the moment.

Monday, January 08, 2018


i went looking for a particular picture in my box full of an old era of images. actual physical pictures. and many with 35 mm negatives. the box weighs 30 pounds. on top are large photos. some old family pictures. many are b&w prints i made when i had a darkroom. i bought film in bulk. it went into a dispenser which would put film into the light tight little canisters which fit into a camera. some of you may remember film cameras. take a picture and move a little crank to advance the film one frame, ready for another exposure.
robin's modern digital camera and my old slr film camera

i would load the camera and go take pictures of anything that caught my eye, using up  a full roll. after developing the film i would make contact prints. strips of film laid flat on photo paper and exposed to light and the developed into visible prints. often i would look at a frame and wonder why i took that shot. what was in there that i found interesting? so i began to understand how to get the object of interest to stand out in the final picture. an angle of shooting. consideration of depth of focus. lighting.

contact sheet. himself center in the bottom row

detail of the capitola trestle. might be upside down.

after i got some kinda handle on getting what i wanted in pics of things i started on people. i had a medium telephoto lens that let me get nice face shots from 7 to 10 feet away. in a setting with several people i would take out the camera and play with it a bit until it was no longer an item of attention. then i would take pictures of friends and family with the intent of finding the relaxed beauty of each and giving each the result. not so much a smiling face as a truly relaxed face. it was a private thing for each person. most were happy enough with their picture to share it. most said that the picture was not how they pictured themselves. most would say of a picture of someone else “that’s such a good picture of you.”

an old friend. all the way from high school til now

anyway… i got tired of pictures after going through just the top layer in the box. now there are all the small prints from commercial developers, many in their envelope with film strips. may take me a while to search till i find the one i want. and each is an invitation for some kind of side trip of memory.

oh, i'll go back to looking for what i want.  did a bit just now. there are a lot to look through. it's a picture of homemade campers at my house in fortuna gathered for a marvelous thanksgiving celebration sometime in the early 1970's.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Hello 2018... far, you look pretty much like 2017. What did I expect? Miracles? No, not really. Just looking forward to changing the calendars and hoping for the best.
Low Clouds hugging the coast range

My sister celebrated her birthday on January 2nd and went out to dinner with her family and brought my mom as well. It was all going so well. My mom was in fine spirits and had just been holding her great-grandson on her lap, while waiting for dinner to be served. Suddenly, she said she felt hot and not well. She started to shout in the small restaurant, "I'm sick. I feel sick. I think I'm dying." Then she passed out, right there at the restaurant with her head on the table, just like that. An ambulance was called. Turns out that with the flu epidemic, there wasn't a single hospital bed available in a 20 mile radius, so she had to travel a bit further north to an ER in a hospital she's never been in before. After many hours in ER, she was admitted. They weren't quite sure what was going on. First possibilities discussed: pneumonia or congestive heart failure.
Dim winter light in the afternoon

By January 3rd, my siblings and I were still wondering what was going on. The hospital staff were narrowing it down to some malfunction with my mom's pacemaker. As of this writing, we still don't have an actual diagnosis or plan.

To say this beginning to 2018 didn't quite measure up to my very low threshold of a dream would be an understatement.
Full moon rising above a neighbor's rooftop

We did get to watch the full moon rise on January 1st and take some walks on January 2nd, before the deluge.

The other day, I wrote on Facebook that my mom used to say to me when I was young, "Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you what you're like." When I read your comments, I feel very lucky to be among such kind-hearted, good-humored, compassionate and mindful humans. Thank you thank you all for your truly wonderful and uplifting comments on my end of 2017 post.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good Bye 2017

Not alpenglow, but so much like it, ten minutes before sunset.
 I'm not sure if I have ever disliked a year quite as much as I detested this one. For so many reasons, it was the worst year... personally, politically, environmentally. It was just one bummer after another. I wanted to wave goodbye to this year with something more uplifting than "Goodbye and good riddance, and please do let the door hit you on the way out..." but I can't.

I'm not going to go into details about politics or the environment. You all know what's going on, and what the future might hold if things keep at this pace of destruction at every level. I'm not sure what can be done. I guess marching in the streets, political involvement, and getting out the vote will be extremely important in 2018. Otherwise... the future looks pretty grim.
A fogbow over the wires on a suburban street
But, really what I want to tell you is what's been going on with my mom. Back in mid December my sister went to the facility to visit with her and found her in the bathroom in a messy excrement situation. Despite my mom's Level II incontinent care, she often heads off to the restrooms alone. Sigh. We all knew what the poop could lead to... a urinary tract infection, which for people suffering with dementia and Alzheimer's is a serious compromise to their already precarious brain function. Ten days ago I spoke with her and she was more garbled and out of it than I had ever heard her before. She was not only not making sense, she was saying words that weren't really words. It blew my mind. So I set an alarm off with emails to my siblings, and my sister took my mom to the doctor and sure enough she had another UTI. She was prescribed an antibiotic and that was that. Well, not exactly, it was the wrong antibiotic, and a new one was prescribed three days later. In the meantime, my twin brother was finally able to drive down to spend some time with her. The timing of that was both good and bad. She definitely needed the support and company, but Michael once again got to see her at the worst time of her UTI-induced brain fog. On his last day there, he called me while he was sitting with her out in the sun. He handed her the phone. She sounded a bit more like herself. I made her laugh (it's my job!). I told her I loved her. She said, "I love you and Roger tremendously." We laughed and laughed. I said "Tremendously? Did you pick that word up from Trump?" We laughed some more.
A moment of zen reflection
This year of my mom's Alzheimer's has been challenging for my siblings and me. Love can't make any of this different or better. We try. Back in January on the day of Trump's inauguration, my mom's decline began in a big way with a UTI and a stroke. My older brother has said that on that day he lost his country and his mother. So sadly true.

So there you go, 2017. Now get out of here and let us all usher in some much-needed peace.

Happy New Year, friends. Sorry for being a bummer, but at least I showed you pretty pictures!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: The Skies of December

Sunset December 8

Sunrise December 9

Sunrise December 11

The last of the moon December 16

Parhelic Circle, Sundogs, Halo, and Circumzenithal Arc December 17

Rainbow all the way to the ground December 21

Contrail Shadow December 23