Saturday, December 31, 2005

Our New Year's Story

Roger Remembers:

on new year's eve 1988 i went to a party of friends. sometime early in the evening i met the twin sister of a man i knew in santa cruz. i knew of her existence, but little else. someone introduced us. we shook hands, mumbled a few words, and went our separate ways. i was happily dateless that night, having just decided that i needed to be alone for a while, so i had a great time dancing among a crowd of friends.

at midnight, or close to it, lovers kissed, partners danced with each other, and my newest acquaintance and i, both being dateless, saw each other and danced together briefly but intensely. i don't recall speaking.

two weeks later a friend told me that she knew someone who would like to go out with me, and gave me the phone number of my midnight dancer. i had been divorced for 3 years and dated several women, but all were mismatches of one sort or another and i was tired of trying. so i decided that i would call this woman and talk to her and maybe go out to dinner, but that i would be my rasty self and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak. it worked out well. better than i expected. she too had a bit of an edge.

we had a nice dinner. we found each other interesting. we talked up a storm. we never stopped. we're still at it. well, we do enjoy silence together too. we have never stopped being together since new year's eve 1988.
One of our very first dates. He was beardless, I had short hair.
A month after we met, we decided to drive to Muleje. Here we are camped somewhere in Baja.
We were dressed up for a party. Summer 1989.
Robin Remembers:
Seventeen years ago, at a New Year's Eve party, I danced at midnight with a man I had just met. When the clock struck twelve we found each other and just for a short while danced a crazy New Year's Eve dance together.

I was newly separated from my husband, had just gotten to California, and was not really looking to start a romance. My twin brother and his wife had been invited to a New Year's Eve party, but they are as reclusive as I, so were not planning on attending. They suggested I go rather than stay home and mope with my broken heart. I was a bit wary because as kind as their friends are, it was a new-age spiritual group, and I am not exactly new age or spiritual (in that "everything happens for a reason" kind of spirituality). I decided to go anyway and wound up dancing with Roger at midnight. There was definitely something about dancing with him that made me want to see him again. I told a mutual friend that I wouldn't mind if Roger would call me. I didn't really know how to go about dating. It made me feel like I was back in high school. Robin likes Roger. Okay, now what? The friend gave Roger my number, and he called. Two weeks after New Year's we had dinner. Interestingly, we both had a bit of an acerbic edge, having decided that we would just plainly be ourselves. If the other didn't like it, well no big deal. So neither one of us was on our best behavior. It was great fun, and we've been inseparably together ever since. We know it's an understatement to say it, but we're so glad that we broke with our personal traditions, went out to celebrate, and stayed awake until midnight on New Year's Eve in 1988.

In Muleje with a guy we had met. He was bicycling from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
We loved each other's company and took up boogie boarding together.
So, we decided to grow old together.
The first sunset photograph we ever shot together. This was in Muleje.

Happy New Year to you all.

Friday, December 30, 2005

What We Saw Without the Camera

We drove into town without the camera. This is what we saw.

A nuclear sub's
conning tower at surface
of peaceful waters

Eagle flew to snag
at local market in town
and watched shoppers shop

Coyote looked up
cars passed by, as we turned left
I whistled hello

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Cold Northwest Days

Looking west towards the Olympic Mountain range
Wednesday's sunset was beautiful. In fact I was going to do a post called The Sky, Every Five Minutes. I couldn't put the camera away. Everywhere I turned it was a stunning display of light, clouds and sky.
Taken from exactly where the greenhouse stood, looking north

But then the sky grew dark, night fell, and the sun rose on a rainy windy Thursday morning. I wanted to get out and see if I could find the eagles. I went to the bay entirely under-dressed for the wind and cold.
Wind-chopped waves in Port Townsend Bay
The usually calm bay roiled and rolled behind me.
Shades of northwest gray looking towards the Paper Mill
I came looking for the eagles. It is their season, but I felt nearly as pulled to them as they are to each other.
They were circling and circling when I first saw them.
They arrived together, but one hovered patiently while the other settled in
They were there, but I couldn't stay long, just enough to take a few photos before I headed back to the pirate and our warm house.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Our Gratitude

The very best thing about blogging has got to be people we have "met" from all around the world. We receive emails and comments from people as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Arctic Bay, and Canada. We hear from Jean in France, Peter in Germany, and Sonia in Brazil. We feel an affinity with our friends in Florida, Missouri, Alabama, Massachussets, Minnesota, Michigan, Vermont, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, California, New York, Hawaii, Virginia, Connecticut, Texas, and Montana. We read blogs from all around the globe. This is a remarkable thing for two retired folks who left California to hide out in Washington to grow our own food, and get as far off the grid as we could. Something happened. We started reading blogs in July 2004. We started our own blog in January 2005, and bought a camera. The world grew smaller, when we found we could reach out around the entire globe with a press of the "enter" key.
I wrote someone the other day and said that "ours is an empire where the sun never sets." That's the empire of blogging. We are communicating with each other without newspapers, television, telephones, or mail. We have found each other in this huge wired and wi-fied world.
We are so grateful for your presence in our lives. We have been enriched and renewed by all of you. Here is one of the reasons why we think of ourselves as unbelievably lucky. Peter Pan from Germany sent us these photographs.

Can you believe this richness? We thank Peter. We thank all of you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Like The Eagles

The pirate has been working on moving the greenhouse. Rain or shine. I can't really assist. It's a one-person job the way he envisioned it. I look out the window and watch that greenhouse move, like a strange ghost ship passing our house right by. On a sunny day like today, I admit it, my teenager-high-school hooky-playing self takes over, and I coax him a way from his mission. "Let's go for a walk," I say, "I'll even drive to our favorite place." He's my hooky-playing soulmate, so we go. When we arrive, we walk and talk, and suddenly come upon two eagles in separate trees. We watch them and photograph them. It becomes apparent they want to spend time together. We hear them call to each other. One leaves its tree, goes to the other, and announces its arrival in a great eagle song we haven't heard before. Then it settles down comfortably with its mate. We smile and walk on.
First eagle
Second eagle
Second eagle flies
Announces arrival
Gets comfy

Monday, December 26, 2005


There is an implicit promise in the sunrise.
We remember, dawn is a noun and a verb.
Dawn breaks behind the eyes.*

*this line is from Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines by Dylan Thomas
Photos from December 25, 2005.

The Greenhouse Project part tres

i'm beginning here with the results. in the picture below the greenhouse is turned and ready to roll. well almost. the wall with the door was parallel with the flat plank sticking out from under it earlier in the day. the plank did not move. the whole dang thing rotated about 30 degrees CCW. on rollers, or trundles. that plank and it's trundle (i'm hoping that trundle is a legitimate noun) upon which the building pivoted, must be repositioned. the other three are ready.

here's an interior view before the building rotated. the pipe roller (trundle) is blocked so it can't roll. the plank under it is the one pictured above.

here is the other long side of the building ready to roll around. as part of our program of continual research we are testing 2 inch pvc pipe for strength. it flattened down to the size of the 1 1/2 inch steel pipe next to it. probably would shatter if it were alone here. science, of a sort.

this is looking at the end of the building with it's mini trundle setup, to keep the support as close to the center of the wall as possible. this would be like the front wheel of a tricycle turned turned sideways. the blocked roller would be like a blocked rear wheel. so the trike of a building turns when the handlebars are pulled in the direction of the front wheel, which is turned sideways.

the little lever that could. hooked to a steel stake driven into the ground with the very hammer pictured.

this post was ready saturday afternoon. it even was posted for 3 minutes. then we decided to do a holiday post. so. below is saturday's move.

bonus greenhouse picture!! as you can see below, if you've come this far in the illustrated narrative, gus the greenhouse has moved from where it was pictured in the first picture of this post (scroll up). the turn was accomplished friday. saturday, i repositioned the plank referred to in picture one and hooked up the little lever that could and began to crank, expecting that it would roll along as it had before. well. there is resistance from the slight incline. the ground is wet from rain. my steel stake won't hold. i have no anchor to pull against.

the rollers are steel pipe sections. i have pipe wrenches. in theory, turning one of the rollers will move the building. and it does!!!! i moved it about ten feet one inch at a time. next post i might include some math about leverage. or not.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Sevens Meme

Here are my answers to the Sevens Meme that we were tagged for by both It's Morning Somewhere (oldwhitelady) and Living the Scientific Life (grrlscientist). These are my answers and may or may not reflect the pirate's sevens.

Seven Things To Do Before I Die

1. Live well and joyously
2. See a mountain lion, an owl, a bear, and the northern lights
3. Write a really great poem
4. Take a cross-country car-trip with dpr
5. High altitude hike in the Cascades
6. Contribute in some way to making the world a better place
7. Make sure that everyone I love knows that I love them.

Seven things I can not do

1. Hurt an innocent living thing intentionally
2. Forgive George Bush for being so stupid
3. Believe in a personal God
4. Get into an airplane
5. Vote for a conservative
6. Let a lie go unchallenged
7. Watch something suffer

Seven things that attract me to... blogging

1. Having a place to post pictures and ideas
2. Reading comments from people who astonish and amaze me with their insights
3. Learning about the world through other people's eyes
4. Having friends without all the messiness of actually knowing people
5. Exercising my freedom of speech
6. Being, for the most part, anonymous
7. Knowing that we are not alone with our perceptions of reality

Seven things I say most often (warning I curse like a sailor!)

1. What the fuck?
2. Why are we driving behind this asshole?
3. Isn't that sky un-fucking-believable?
4. Are these people idiots, or what?
5. Wow, that bird is great.
6. Am I going crazy, or is this really happening?
7. I have fucking had it.

Seven Books I love

1. Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
2. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
4. Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
5. Celestial Navigation by Anne Tyler
6. The Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
7. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

Seven Movies that I watch over and over (I've changed this to my 7 favorite actors and 7 favorite actresses (and all the movies they were in)

1. Cary Grant
2. Gregory Peck
3. Humphrey Bogart
4. William Holden
5. Robert Mitchum
6. Burt Lancaster
7. Marlon Brando

1. Katharine Hepburn
2. Barbara Stanwyck
3. Ingrid Bergman
4. Joan Fontaine
5. Bette Davis
6. Greer Garson
7. Olivia DeHavilland

The films that I love to watch over and over, but that don't have those actors or actresses: The Princess Bride, The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, When Harry Met Sally, All the President's Men, Chinatown, The Way We Were

Seven People I will Spare this Meme:
You know who you are.

Bonus Hanukkah Hawk which returned to brighten this first day of Hanukkah!
(Click on to see the gleam in his eyes!)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Our Holiday Message

(You may have to click on this to read our holiday message)

One of the fine people who visits here and sometimes leaves comments, sent us this wonderful holiday gift. We thought we'd share it with you.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Long Live the King!

We were having a wonderful visit with our dear friend. A brunch of blue potato homefries and poached eggs. Great conversation. When suddenly the kingfisher returned. It survived yesterday's encounter with the hawk and lived to fish another day.

It complained to the pirate who was walking out towards the ever-moving greenhouse. Kingfisher doesn't like people on its territory. The pirate reminded him who saved his life!

You bet I'm smiling.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Food Chain Story

Thursday's stunning sky
Early Thursday morning the kingfisher arrived in our yard. The coyote walked along the fence. The hawk did its usual fly through. We thought if we were children's book authors we would write a tale about this odd backyard trio: Kingfisher, Coyote, and Hawk. We imagined something charming and uplifting like all children's books should be. But the coyote only stayed for a few minutes. It sat innocently outside the yard, scratched its ear, got up and walked to and fro a bit, then left. Kingfisher and hawk on the other hand, told us a story about predation.
We were surprised by the kingfisher's presence. We do have a very small pond with about ten fish in it. We wondered why a kingfisher would come to a yard not so well-suited to its behaviors or its favorite habitat? We are about 1/2 mile from the nearest creek. But there it was nonetheless. It spent almost the whole day flying from willow to plum to garage roof to the border conifers. We were intrigued by it and photographed it most of the day. I really like kingfishers. I even imagined stocking the pond with fish, if it wanted to stay and call our yard home.
By late afternoon it had finally grown bold enough to perch above the pond. I watched it from our sauna's exterior bench. It waited in intense concentration for the moment to strike. Part of me wanted to run for the camera, part of me wanted to just wait to see what it would do. It sang its fantastic song and flew straight down into the pond and then back into the tree. I was too far away to see if it had gotten one of the goldfish. Then, suddenly out of nowhere, there was another bird in the tree, and the kingfisher was shrieking. For a moment I thought another kingfisher had arrived and was arguing over territory, but I realized that a very large hawk had body slammed the kingfisher. They both had tumbled to the ground fluttering in a fight, and were flying towards the fence.

I was up and off the bench and running at them screaming. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I couldn't bear to watch the kingfisher be killed and eaten in the yard. I surprised them both. The kingfisher stumbled in the brambles and dried dead weeds, and then took off in a split second and headed out of the yard. I couldn't tell how badly it had been hurt. The hawk was up and flying straight after it. I was still chasing them. I think I may have been shouting for the hawk to get the hell out of the yard, and to leave the kingfisher alone. DPR stepped out of the sauna to see me running through the yard. Crazy woman.
I went into the house and cried. Maybe I'm not cut out for country life. On the other hand, this could be a children's book story that would really be about life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Safe Among Predators

(Definitely click on this photo taken by DPR)
It rained on and off all day on Wednesday. This hawk flew from willow to rock to plum tree, then perched on the bird feeder and lazily dried off. We watched as it spread its wings and tail feathers, shook itself, and stretched. It was surprisingly relaxed and comfortable. We took 57 photos of it. The little birds had scattered and were hiding, waiting to see where their monstrous predator would fly next.
I thought of what it means to feel safe, the words that now are used against us, as if our safety were a license to do anything on our behalf. The Bush administration says the actions it takes are to protect and keep us safe. But there are so many things they could have done to convey that desire to us. So here's our list of things ten things that would make us feel safe:

1. Ensure that the air we breathe and the water we drink is clean. Don't pass legislation that weakens the Clean Air and Water Acts.

2. Provide a single-payer health care system so that all people have access for their basic health care needs.

3. Make sure that the foods we eat meet standards for health safety-- and are not contaminated by pesticides and chemicals. For instance, don't change the standards on acceptable levels of mercury in our fish.

4. Make sure that medications are approved after a rigorous R & D process, and that testing and reporting is done by people who have no financial interest in the outcomes.

5. Provide us with a military that does not recruit from lowest category on aptitude test takers.

6. Make sure that secret agents know the difference between terrorists and students, vegans, anti-war activists, and green peace members.

7. Try not to antagonize the rest of the world by invading sovereign nations based on false and misleading intelligence.

8. Invest in alternative energies so that we lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.

9. Have a real plan for emergency evacuations and the aftermath in the case of future Katrinas or terrorist attacks.

10. Uphold the constitution.

That's just our list of ten things that would make us feel safe. You might have you own. What would they be? And lest you think that it's all we do is sit and brood over this, here's that hawk photoshopped.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Naturally Political

I can't get my mind off the latest news of domestic spying. I look around and suddenly see politics everywhere.

the storm approaches
with dark revelations, a
reign of lawlessness

they tap tap away
pretend laws are nothing but
words, light as paper
goldfish suspended
in winter's pond waiting, for
Bush to be impeached

An important update:
Everyone-- Thanks so much for you thoughtful comments. I meant to write why this is so important to me, but I forgot in the poetic moment.
I worked at UC Santa Cruz for 16 years. I advised students there in many ways, from academics to the First Amendment. Every year for all of those 16, I met students who were motivated, compelling, dynamic, assertive, creative, and any other word you might think of when meeting a college student. But I never met one-- I NEVER MET ONE-- who should be spied on by the Pentagon. Yet, that's exactly what happened on my campus. Students protesting military recruiters (by holding a gay-kiss-in) at a Job Faire, were spied on by the Department of Defense .
Enough is enough.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Greenhouse Project-Part Deux

we have movement! not far, 'cause i forgot everything i ever knew about geometry. you'll see from the picture that the "tracks" are aimed to turn the building. that would work if there were wheels attached to the building. there are not. i am using rollers that are not fixed. thanks to clare i know now that this is called trundeling. the thing moved almost effortlessly for almost 2 feet. geometry dictated that the rollers would either roll off the side of the tracks or out from under the building. and they did. doh. but for the distance it did roll the effort was minimal.

so i will redo the tracks and rollers to move straight ahead. it wants about ten feet of movement, a turn of about 30 degrees, 80 feet straight, a 90 degree turn, and a final 20 feet. i'm confident now that the straight ahead moves will go easily. i'll let you all know how the turns go when i get there. no going back now.

the posts are cut loose. the braces are in place. the jacking points are ready. the jacks are in place. and it works! the whole SE side of the building is rising.
click to enlarge

ready to move. what's wrong with this picture? well, it is a decent picture, but the arrangement of the rollers and the planks for them to roll on guarentees, not exactly failure, but at least the need to adjust it all every six inches of movement. don't laugh too much at my mickey mouse come-along setup.
click to enlarge
clear evidence of movement.

click to enlarge

an afternoon moment. the sun found it's way through he trees.

click to enlarge
i re-aligned the plank "tracks" to move the building straight ahead. it moved along quite nicely for ten feet and is ready now to turn. no, i have not yet worked out the turn. we made a movie of it moving. a moving picture. ha ha. low speed connection (small file, small picture). high speed connection (larger picture, better quality, larger file)

click to enlarge