Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday Morning

Thanks for all of your kind good wishes. My mom hasn't had a chance to read them yet, but she will be so delighted when she does. She is still in the hospital and hasn't responded quite as quickly to the antibiotics as we had all hoped. She was supposed to be released Saturday afternoon, but her fever returned. We are hoping she'll be able to come home today.

Roger and I had an uneventful journey down I-5. Red-tailed hawks on fence posts and power poles, a giant osprey nest along Pyramid Lake, cattle yards and feed lots. The central valley requires imagination to find its inherent beauty. I lacked that imagination on the way down. Lots of other cars barreling down the highway at 90 mph. We were the slowpokes at 75 mph.

Update: My sister and I brought our mom home Sunday at noon. She's in great spirits and hopefully on the mend. Thanks again to everyone for your good wishes. It really helps.

One thing I learned watching my sister in the hospital is how important it is to have a good advocate. She asked questions, wouldn't let anyone give medication without a complete and detailed explanation, and conveyed information to nurses after staff shift changes. I'm sure you wouldn't be surprised to know that hospitals are rather quick to prescribe things that have bizarre side-effects. If you ever wind up in the hospital, bring an advocate.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The End of Day at the Edge of the World

Here the sun is sinking into the Pacific. At day's end, at land's edge we wonder where on earth there is peace? Has there ever been peace? Has the sun ever set on a day when no blood was shed in war or rage? Would we know ourselves in such a world?

We may be away from these internets for a while. My mother was just diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia. One of the reasons we came back to California is because our mothers are in their 80s, and both need our loving attention. We were supposed to see my mom for Thanksgiving, but Roger was ill and had to have emergency surgery on Thanksgiving Eve. This month my mom was supposed to come up to observe my father's birthday with us and scatter rose petals in the bay, but she had to cancel because she wasn't feeling well. Now, a week later, we know that she is really quite ill and had to be admitted to the hospital on Thursday. We came to California to help, and so help her we must. She actually does have a speedy wi-fi connection at her place (truly the fastest connection we've ever seen) so we won't be completely disconnected, but we may be completely pre-occupied.

Please keep my mother in your thoughts, friends. She reads the blog everyday. She loves you guys.

Monday, December 24, 2007

If You Want It

Single payer health care is yours
if you want it

Habeas Corpus is yours
if you want it

Senators and representatives who work for their constituents are yours
if you want it

A country that does not advocate torture is yours
if you want it

A president who does not claim instruction from god is yours
if you want it

Smart environmental policy is yours
if you want it

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is yours
if you want it

We want it.

What do you want for Christmas?

Friday, December 21, 2007


this is our dining table, and the capitola wharf beyond.

i'm awash in memories here in capitola, from several eras of my life. this is the house in which i spent many summers when i was young. right out there is the beach where i played in the waves and the wharf from which i caught untold numbers of perch. i lived here briefly in 1970 with my first-born daughter when she was a baby. i remodeled a big chunk of the house in 1985. robin and i lived upstairs from 1989 to 1994. i rebuilt the garage in 1991.

it's fun and interesting to be here where we found each other. we're in the same two upstairs rooms we lived in for 5 years, about 370 square feet. through a BIG earthquake. we take the same walks we did back then. shop at the same stores. listen to the breaking waves at night lulling us asleep, as we did back then. we dined in the same restaurant, at the same table, where we dined on one of our first real dates, where we first professed our love for each other. of course, the restaurant has changed quite a bit in 18 years, but the food and service are still excellent, as is our love.

we drove up the coast to san francisco last weekend to see my youngest daughter and her boyfriend. i've spent time on almost every beach on that stretch of coastline. half moon bay is, well was back then, a 20 minute drive from where i lived in san mateo during high school. i spent many afternoons surf fishing and many nights drinking beer on those beaches.

robin has written about our tradition of remembering her father by throwing roses, this year rose petals, from the wharf where her family consigned his ashes to the sea. i always dedicate one rose, or petal, to my own father. his ashes, some anyway, were put into the ocean on his favorite island of maui. i figure it's all one ocean. this year as we were out there with our rose petals from port townsend i looked back down along the wharf and saw a collage of my own history. from a 6 year old me buying squid for bait and fishing thru the cracks in the planks to the stormy night robin and her sister, brothers, and mother scattered the ashes onto the water from the landing float which was pitching up and down at least 5 feet in the heavy surf.

the wharf has gone through many phases in my lifetime, as has the village of capitola. when i was young the wharf was a place for fishermen (fisherpeople?) and capitola was a slightly seedy vacation town. both the wharf and the village got seedier and more ragged around the edges in the late fifties and early sixties. now the wharf is a tourist attraction with mooring buoys where sailboats tie up in the summer and a wanna be chi chi restaurant. the village and surrounding bluffs are filling up with large, high-end mcmansions. the skiball and penny arcades of my youth are now tony restaurants and curio shops.

below is a picture of the house from outside on the same morning as the picture above, which looks out from the upstairs windows.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rose Sky, Rose Sea, Rose Petals

Today would have been my father's 89th birthday. Unfortunately his years stopped counting forward when he died at the age of 73 in 1992. For years after my family had gathered to scatter his ashes into the sea from this very wharf, Roger and I walked down these old planks to toss roses into the bay for him. We did that on his birthday and the anniversary of his death. It was a spontaneous ritual, one that sprang out of having no grave to lay down our flowers or our tears.
Being back in California on my father's birthday gives us this special heart-tugging opportunity to walk down the wharf for him again. This time we are not going to toss fresh roses in the bay. Instead, I saved these rose petals from our yard in Washington. We'll go down to the wharf after sunset Wednesday, and send our love and rose petals down into those stormy waters, saying out loud to a man who's been gone a long time that he is still dearly loved, missed, and remembered.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Do Sea Otters Have Bellybuttons?

I wish we had more than this question, but we're tired and it's been a long day. We drove 75 miles up the coast to San Francisco on Sunday, had lunch with Elena (Roger's youngest) and her partner Jimmy. We walked through Golden Gate Park and the panhandle. Saw people that were like flashbacks to an earlier era, pierced and tattooed, painted and preened. We drove home with the sun setting on the edge of a magnificent continent. We remembered why love this part of the world.

But the question remains, do sea otters have bellybuttons? I photographed this sea otter on Saturday and had an opportunity to be fairly close to it. When I looked at this photograph, I thought I saw something that looked very bellybutton-like (click on the pic and take a look). What do you think? What we've been really intrigued by, though, is the presence of a gull hanging out very close to the otters. They seem to be waiting around for some inadvertently dropped food, or maybe they clean up whatever morsels have been left behind. We just don't know, and it's only been the past few days that we've noticed this interaction. I guess today we have more questions than answers.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Times They Aren't A Changin'

We got sidetracked by audio. Wow, does that ever eat up hours and hours of time. While I baked bread on Thursday and Roger put up shelves to make our little space a little more organized and spacious, we also worked on an audio file. (An interesting project for two non-musicians who have un-used audio programs on their computers.)

Here's how life happens. I was listening to Thom Hartmann's show on Air America Thursday morning when the 10:00 am news break came on. The reporter from Free Speech Radio Network was talking about the arctic becoming ice-free in the summers. I was listening while I baked bread. There was something about the cadence of her voice that reminded me of Simon and Garfunkel's 7 O'Clock News - Silent Night. Roger came downstairs and listened to the news piece and said it reminded him of it as well. That was it. We were off on a tangent to make this updated version. (Her voice is the first piece of the news we used.)

But even before that, we had both read an article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer about a Washington Congressman, Jim McDermott, who the paper identified as one of nine US representatives who had voted against Christmas. What? We have no global climate policy, no single payer health care, no updated CAFE standards, no Constitutional accountability, no compliance with the Geneva Convention against torture, no open government, no caps on spending for the war, but we do have a new resolution recognizing Christmas and the Christian faith.

I guess this must be our contribution to that little piece of hypocrisy.

All sounds were borrowed without permission from the internets. I googled free mp3 download of Silent Night, and this version came up. The rest of the audio was found on Free Speech Radio, National Public Radio, and CNN. We thank them for seeing this as a fair-use creative endeavor meant only to educate, entertain, and enlighten.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Breathing in Time With the Sea

We're still here. We're watching the world outside our windows. We're reading the news everyday. We're walking along the shore, but it's the wind that brings tears to our eyes. We watched Judgment at Nuremberg last week. We're expecting Inherit the Wind on Tuesday. We're living life in the here and now. We're lamenting the past and fearful about the future. We're seeing dolphins through the open door while we do the dishes. We are learning how to breathe in time with the sea.

The first link above takes you to You Tube and you can watch the scene where the Nuremberg verdict is read. Tell us it's not relevant to the times in which we live.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I have been out shooting panoramic photographs of the sky and bay from the deck. It's hard not to keep trying to capture the entire breathtaking scope of it, so I keep at it. The light and shadow, color and hues change all day long.
It's just insufficient to say it was a cloudy day. The grays and blues have a palette that is impossible to describe and even harder to match without seriously abrupt transitions. These are five photos taken a mere one or two seconds apart. This view is looking at the light in the sky from east to west.
It was much easier to photograph a calm sunset. The sky was completely accommodating with even and easy shading, and the calm bay reflected it with perfect symmetry. These are five photos again taken a few seconds apart. (It's our new header.)
On Tuesday a stormy sky stirred up the bay with waves that thundered and crashed for hours. There was no way to even get a good single shot let alone three or five to convey the sound and fury of that much water moving.
An older, experienced surfer took his board out for a last ride in those waves on Tuesday. There were 20 foot swells. He lost the tether to his board and couldn't successfully swim this pounding surf back to shore. On Wednesday the sun rose through a half-shadowy sky, and the waves still roared.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

in sickness and in health

thank you all who left such encouraging comments on the previous post about our blogname uncertainty. we are not worthy. (that's a "wayne's world" reference, google it)
our garden here in sunny (so far) capitola. that's a mix of various lettuces planted about 4 weeks ago.

i've been trying to compose a grand epic narrative of my recent health challenge. feh, as they say on the internet. or is it meh? other people we know have much worse health problems than i had, and still others have no insurance for even minor problems. i am well now. i got excellent care at santa cruz medical clinic and sutter hospital. robin and i marveled at the poise and equanimity of the the receptionists, nurses, physician's assistants, and doctors who deal with people in my condition or worse all day, or shift, long. waiting rooms full of pain and infection.

i did pass out from pain (a story for another post) and i did have an abscess that would have been much more serious if untreated, but i got proper diagnosis, including a ct scan, and treatment, on short notice. i took heavy duty antibiotics, cipro and flagyl, for 10 days. my malady was, in the scale of maladies, a simple infection, even if in a secluded place--the wall of my lower colon. this care was paid for (mostly, we haven't gotten bills yet) by medicare and some sort of supplemental from robin's retirement insurance package. we did not have to hesitate to consider money. too many others are not so fortunate. robin reminds me that i remarked, somewhere in the middle of a painful day, that i felt guilty that i was so well taken care of while i knew that so many were not.

somewhere in the past i read of the notion that the strength of a nation, especially a democracy, depended on a healthy and well-educated populace. there was probably mention of fiscal responsibility too. am i un-american to notice and point out that our country isn't doing very well in all three of those areas?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

We Are Not The Dharma Bums

We are not really the Dharma Bums. That was Japhy Ryder and Ray Smith from the imaginative ramblings and rants of Jack Kerouac. So we think it may be time to rename this blog, but we don't know what to call it. I think the problem lies in the fact that the blog has no direction or purpose. We are not naturalists, nor are we poets. We are not political writers, nor are we biologists. We have no claim to anything other than our insatiable appetite for knowledge. Roger is a damned good carpenter and cook. I can take a pretty good picture every now and then. We are masters of none.

Do we need a new name? What do you think? Suggestions?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Red Tide

There's been a rusty-red tide here in Monterey Bay and hundreds of sea and shorebirds have been sickened or killed by it. There has been extensive research done and as far as it can be determined, the tide is a natural phenomenon, but quite possibly exacerbated by fertilizers and run-offs.

The tide shifts from place to place, and right now it's back in the Santa Cruz area having traveled from Moss Landing and Monterey. We have definitely noticed the impact on bird life here. In addition to seeing three dead birds, we've seen strange behavior, like this seabird propelling itself seal-like to get on to the shore. At first we weren't sure if this bird had been injured. Its movements looked so wrong. But after conferring with friends and fellow bloggers, it seems like it was moving the only way it could on land, but its presence was troubling nonetheless. Why would a seabird come ashore like this?
We went back down to the wharf to watch the Grebes (this may be a Clarks or a Western), to get an idea of how these birds move in the water. It was a relief to see those little legs and feet propel these birds around, and yet look absolutely useless as land legs. It occurred to us while we were watching them in the water just how much those legs are more like flippers than anything else. No wonder they look so peculiar on land.

The best hope for this tide to move on will be for rains or big winds. As much as we have been thoroughly enjoying this balmy November weather, we'll take the wind and rain if it will restore the waters to their blue and beautiful state.

Bonus Red-Shouldered Hawk Pic: Yum.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Slowly But Surely

Healing takes its own sweet time. There is no pushing it. We try to do all the right things and simply hope for the best outcomes. In the meantime life happens outside our windows.
This is our next door neighbor's roof where the Red-Shouldered Hawk likes to hunt. It's been there for several days, hunting along the railroad tracks below, and then coming back to the roof with something to eat. This hawk seems fairly well habituated to humans, and doesn't seem to mind much if I click a zillion photos of it. It's got a few choice spots it hunts from. As I type this, I see it on top of the power pole across the street. There's some comfort in having wildlife this close everyday.
We did get out on Friday for the minus tide. It was great to see these familiar tidepools again, although we didn't find an octopus, the way we had so many years ago. Still the colors on the anemones were enough to thrill us.
We like the steady rhythm of life unfolding outside our window. We're quietly watching, listening, healing.

Roger's health issues have put blogging into a peculiar perspective at the moment. We seem to have settled into a life that doesn't readily yield to a diarist approach. So, blogging will be light to non-existent, but I guess that's already obvious. Thanks again for all of your good wishes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

words and a picture, with a graphic update

i am overwhelmed by the sympathy and buoyed by the good wishes from our readers. i owe you all a good story and you shall have it when things are resolved, which may happen today. i am not feeling pain. i see why rush limbaugh likes percocet, or whatever flavor of oxycodone he went for.

here's a picture (of a picture) of me, in my younger and healthier days, and my siblings and an unknown little girl (on the left) on the beach here in capitola in what must be 1953. that's me in back, my sister (style leader that she is, topless on the beach) on the right, and my two brothers in front. the buildings in the background are all still there, now transformed from tacky bars and arcades and boathouses into chi-chi bars and restaurants.

it is fun to be back here, though i'm not such a beach person anymore.

The medical update: We're waiting for a call from a surgeon to find out what yesterday's CT scan shows, if there will be a need for surgery, and if so will it be done in the office, or in the hospital OR. Percocet has restored Roger to his pain-free self. Yay!

another update: the surgeon informed us at 3pm on wednesday that i have (well, as of now, had) a large abscess in the wall of my colon which required immediate attention. at 7pm i had successful surgery in the OR. the hardest part to endure was after the procedure waiting for the epidural (saddle block) to wear off. very strange feeling, er, non-feeling. no sensation or muscle control from my belly button on down. robin brought me home at midnight. i slept well and feel fine now. mmmmmm percocet. the procedure involved lancing and draining the abscess. no new apertures in my body were created. don't use your imagination.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sights and Sorrows

We've been distracted by beauty and pain. Stunning sights of sleeping sea otters and stories of rage and murder. We were supposed to be on the road today, Sunday, heading south in our rented 2007 dark red Malibu (such a nice car, alan) for Thanksgiving, but Roger has been sick for days and days, in bed--in pain. It's so unlike him to yield to pain like this, he's been known to have a root canal on a very vital tooth without novocaine. Roger's tough. This pain has laid him low. All I can say is that we've been to Urgent Care and the pharmacy, and there will very likely be a colonoscopy in the near future. Need I say more? Probably not. We are worried but mostly about the unknown, of course.

The old neighbors whose family had the house next door for probably as long as Roger's family has had this house, sold their place a year or so ago. The new owner, a real estate mogul-tycoon had the place gutted and is erecting something that seems slightly larger than the original footprint. A lot of wrangling with the zoning and coastal commissions. I write about this because the former owners were fantastic gardeners and loved to feed the birds. I noticed their old birdbath had filled with a bit of drizzly rain water the other day. A few birds were enjoying a bath in the stingy puddle. So, I went over and poured some nice clean water into the bath. The next day we were treated to this: a Townsend's Warbler bathing and looking happy as ever.
It made me a bit nervous to pour that water into our neighbor's birdbath because we had just heard a story about feuding neighbors that ended so badly, two people dead, and a 72 year old man in prison facing a death penalty case. The story has special significance for Roger and me because the husband of the dead couple, shot to death in their front yard, was Roger's oldest friend's law partner. He had been shot by his next door neighbor, with whom and he and his wife had been feuding for years, over an easement. An easement. It's the kind of thing that just makes you scratch your head and wonder, how did they let it get to this? I've been reading some of the newspapers articles covering this horrific crime, and it just seems to have come down to insanely bad neighbors and long-held grudges. After hearing a story like that, what was I doing going over to the neighbor's front yard, pouring water into the birdbath? Being a good neighbor? Well really, I rationalized, nobody actually lives in the house yet. It doesn't have any fixtures or even mud on the sheetrock. I assumed nobody even notices that the birdbath is there, with all the construction going on.
Our walks have been limited, as you probably guessed, so I am entertaining myself with the neighborhood birds and trying to stay out of trouble. Our last walk was on Wednesday when Roger, my twin brother, and I hiked around in one of the local redwood forests. It is always a revelatory experience to walk among the coastal giants. The day before we had been to Elkhorn Slough and seen beautiful shorebirds, tentatively identified as Curlews and Godwits. We saw families of Harbor Seals curled up sleeping. But it's the Brown Pelican in breeding plumage that knocked me out. That, and the Sea Otters floating about in their peaceful slumber, struck us as truly incredible sights.

We may leave for points south on Monday. We'll see how Roger responds to the medication. It's a foggy Sunday. So thick, I can't even see the neighbor's birdbath. It's probably better that way.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our Pogonip Hike

We took a walk on Monday in a place called Pogonip with our good friend and fellow blogger Tara. It's another one of those places that we should have walked when we lived here, but didn't. We did a lot of biking back in the day, so now we are discovering wonderful hiking trails in so many places.
Pogonip is a 640 acre park of open meadows, woodlands, and creeks. There are eight miles of hiking trails. We picked one trail, the Pogonip Creek trail, and headed out. It's been fairly dry here on the central coast, so we did not expect to see any water in the creek. We were rather pleasantly to surprised to both see and hear the water. As we left the dry meadows and headed down toward the shadow of tall trees along the creek, it occurred to us that we were walking in the redwoods again. I have to admit it's always thrilling to walk among the coastal giants. There is something about a tree that is hundreds of years old that helps put the news of the current day in proper perspective. It's not that the news is not important, it's that no matter how important it is, it will all be dust long before any of these giants fall, merely a tree ring noting a dry season.
We walked out from the shadowy creek and up into the bright light of the meadow. There were butterflies there, and surprisingly they weren't monarchs. I thought we might have seen these before, but I didn't know what they were. I photographed three of them and did some research when I got home. Turns out they are Common Buckeyes. Somehow calling these beautiful creatures common seems wrong, I find them uncommonly lovely.
It was a perfect day. The sound of a red-tailed hawk came piercingly from a nearby treetop. The sky was cloudlessly blue and the temperature was warm enough for Roger to have hiked in a short-sleeved tee-shirt, and flip-flops without socks (of course). We only saw two other people on the trail. They both reminded me why Santa Cruz sometimes has a reputation for a bit of looniness. One guy came up out of the creek area, completely off trail. He had a bit of that wild unstable look in his eyes. We were relieved that he chose to go in the opposite direction from ours. Shortly afterwards, another man came from the other direction on the trail towards us. He was absolutely bare-assed naked, except for a pack on his back, and shoes. He said hello. We said hello back. I didn't photograph him, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Would it surprise you if I told you that he bore the brunt of our jokes for the rest of the day. We were merciless I tell you. Merciless.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monarchs and Pelicans

It's surprising to think that for all the years we lived in Santa Cruz, and the number of times we biked and hiked around and past Natural Bridges State Park, we never actually stopped in to take a look around. It's one of the places where Monarch butterflies come to winter. They arrive in mid-October and stay until late January.
It was difficult to capture both the butterflies in the trees and sky simultaneously. There were Monarchs everywhere, and the trees looked like they were covered in orange and black flowers. (These photos really need to be clicked on to get a sense of what it looked like.)
After walking the Monarch butterfly path, we headed out to the beach at Natural Bridges. The pelicans and gulls covered the rocks.
We could walk fairly close to them. Close enough to get a close-up of a Brown Pelican grooming in the Sunday afternoon sun.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Old Footsteps, New Footsteps

There was almost a minus tide on Wednesday. It was a 0.3, so we headed out to take the old walk we used to take when we lived here years and years ago. It occurred to us that we never checked the tide tables when we walked back then, we just ventured out and were met by the tide of the day. We are older and perhaps wiser now, so we plan ahead. Why leave to fate what can be construed by the sun and moon? You know why we came? It was to see if the old fossil beds were visible and not covered by old storms and higher tides.
But first we found some new birds. Who could this little black and white be, we wondered. Fortunately my brother and SIL let us borrow their Sibley's for our stay, so we could ID this beauty: a Black Phoebe, sitting on a little shore rock. What a fine way to start our walk.
Then we saw what might be a Willet. A beautiful lithe and winsome bird hunting along the shore. When we looked at the photograph after we had gotten home, we saw that it was standing by another little shore bird that might be a Western Sandpiper.
Then, we took the longer view. Here is what the shoreline looks like.
Roger walked over to some rocks and called me to come and take a look.
Oh yes. There was a beautiful fossil, and one we had not seen before.

As we walked on though, we could see that there had been considerable erosion and much of the best fossil beds were under huge fallen pieces of the cliffside.

We talked about long geologic time, global climate change, earthquakes. We were wondering what cataclysmic combination it would take to bring back the fossil beds. Rising waters, thrusting plates. When will the old be new again?

Check here for a bit of info about the fossils, or Google Capitola fossil. The seawall has not been built.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What We Are Seeing These Days

The fog blew in and never left. It's a hot summer weather pattern, or maybe it's a marine layer inversion. I think I heard the weather guy say that on the local weather report. Whatever it is, it's like living where there is no horizon line, sky and earth blend into each other. A gauzy, light gray sameness. Still we venture out into the chill everyday just to see.
There are birds here we haven't seen in Washington. That makes looking around very exciting. Tuesday was a grand day for glimpsing things new to us, like this Western Scrub jay. Look at that blue. If we miss the sky, we find it here in feather and wing.
We headed down to the wharf and discovered this lone Western Grebe (at least that's what we think it is). The Cornell Bird website says that Western Grebes live in the middle of the country on lakes, but winter along the Pacific Coast. We certainly understand that migration. Our journey took us to the same place.
But it's this hawk that has really gotten our attention. We live in the middle of its territory. I see him on the roof of the house below ours towards the bay. It has even come and landed on our deck railing.
It spends a good deal of time on the roof of the house next door. We have no idea what kind of hawk this is, but are intrigued by the mottled markings on its back. If anyone out there has a clue about this bird's identity, we'd love to hear it.
I just had to include this photo because there is something about seeing a hawk with waves crashing behind it that tells us we're not back home in Washington.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Catching Our Breath

We've been in California a week. We're not exactly settled in yet. We have no routine. We live upstairs and downstairs. It's been hot. It's been foggy. We've seen more family and friends in the past six days than we have in three years in Washington. Okay, I exaggerate, but we are socializing beyond our usual limits. We do take a walk every day and have a good look around. We're seeing hummingbirds in November. We're seeing a little hawk in the neighborhood we can't identify yet. We're watching pelicans sail past the window.

We don't have cable TV. We don't have caller ID. We are roughing it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Real California Welcome

When we were driving down to California I mentioned to Roger that I hoped there wouldn't be an earthquake while we were there. We had been upstairs in this very house for the big one in 1989, and it left quite an impression. So, let's see, we've been in California less than four days, and there was a 5.6 earthquake Tuesday evening. It wasn't nearly as large (7.1) as the one in 1989, but it was still significant and really quite a bit of a shake. It rattled our nerves a bit, but still there is something almost thrilling about feeling the earth move like that beneath our feet. We're hoping it was a stress-relieving quake and not a prelude to a bigger one. Oy.

Tuesday's earthquake was the largest to hit the area since the Loma Prieta quake of 1989. One of the reasons I worry about this 5.6 temblor being a prelude rather than a stress reliever, is that I remember this: On August 8, 1989 we were awakened at 1:00 am to a 5.4 earthquake. It shook long enough for Roger and me to run downstairs and head out into the street. We had a dear friend staying with us. She was in one of the downstairs bedrooms, and she met us in the street. Because Loma Prieta happened two months later, this smaller quake seems to be all but forgotten. Perhaps it occurred on another fault. I'll have to look that up. If you click on the pic, you'll see I've highlighted the event.

First Morning, Second Morning

We drove 900 miles in two days. We've been busy, non-stop since the moment we walked in the door. So much to do to make a space feel like home. This sunrise on the first morning pulled me out of bed and had me running, looking for my clothes and the camera. Back home in Washington, I could head outside wearing nothing but a tee-shirt, but here that kind of behavior is frowned upon.
We're so busy making this house a home, it's hard to remember to take short breaks and head down the little public trail right out the front door, down to the train trestle to take a peek up and down the creek.
We forgot to bring the Sibley's Bird Guide with us (that and a bunch of other important things like the telephone, the modem, the cat's kibble), so the new birds we are seeing in the creek are unknown to us. It's like the good old days, when we just looked and couldn't identify anything.
The second morning was a bit moodier and grayer than the first. There was a hint that the sun would spill out into that blue sky, but the fog and clouds overtook it before that happened. That's not a metaphor or anything, just the way some days begin.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


This is the view from the yard. We're planning a trip to that yard. So, we're very busy and chaotic. We're going to be gone for three months. I guess you could call us snowbirds, and that would be somewhat true. Maybe we're rainbirds or gray-weather birds. Next week we're driving down to Santa Cruz and staying in the upstairs two-room garret of Roger's family beach house. It overlooks the beautiful Monterey Bay. When Roger and I first met we lived there for five years. We know how to live in very small spaces. In fact we prefer it. The house we are leaving is much too big for the two of us to rattle around in the long dark months. We could live in a space the size of our bedroom. The rest of the house is really superfluous. I'm not sure why the McMansion idea is so popular. So much space is a distraction.
This is the view from upstairs. We will try not to think about the cold and gray northwest while we gaze out the windows. We have housesitters lined up and other great caregivers. Someone plans to write the great American novel in our house. Someone else will check in on the garden, the plants, the birds. Someone will be sending us our snail mail. We like to spread out the work, so no one feels overwhelmed. Three months is a long time. Fortunately, there will be a warm body here all the time, so we feel okay about leaving. We are taking the cat with us. He doesn't like his routine disrupted, but we think he'll manage to create a new one in the upstairs garret with us. We imagine he'll like it very much up there. Lots of things to watch flying past the windows: pelicans, gulls, hawks, herons. We're looking forward to that too. That, and the sound of waves every night.

We've already checked the tide charts and noted when there will be minus tides during the daylight in winter. Something we never have up here. We're hoping to find the fossil beds not covered by sand. We'll be looking for octopus in the rocky tidepools. We're planning on taking the camera.

Well that's the plan. So if we're quiet the next few days, not stopping by all the blogs we usually do, or seem more distracted than usual, you know why.

Update: I see why I should not try to write a post when I have a headache. I left the impression that we were leaving sooner than we are. We're busy getting ready for a three-month trip, but won't be leaving until next week. But there's so much stuff to be done in preparation, it's taking a lot of our time. We will have dsl when we get to Capitola, and plan to blog from there. We'll still be blogging from here though for the next few days. Not sure what we'll have to say, maybe... hey guess what... it's raining!