Monday, December 29, 2008

We Have Some Answers

Here is another sunrise photo. I took this pic Sunday morning. I'm posting it because some of our commenters have asked how it is that we live on the west coast and can watch the sun rise over the Pacific. It's a good question. We live on a bend of the Monterey Bay that lets us look south and east, although considerably more east than south. Because there is such an expanse of sky out the window, we do get to see the colors of both the rising and setting sun. We don't see the sunset, per se, but the entire sky is typically colorful from one end to the other.

The above photo was taken from the upstairs window. The window is not clean (my bad, Roger's too! Hah!). Who has time between rain, fog, and wind to climb out on the slanty roof and wash these ancient pieces of wavy glass? Not me. Still, it is a pleasure to look out on any day, at any time. But sunrises and sunsets turn the world into art of a million colors. Hard to look away, ever.
This sunset photo was taken Sunday evening looking almost due south from the same upstairs window. A subdued event, but still gives you an idea of what we can see. I was leaning as far as I could and framed the shot with the window frame in it, so you could have a sense of our perspective.

Some of our lovely commenters have also asked how my mom is doing. My mom is doing incredibly well. She spent the holidays at my sister's. It's been a year since she was there last when her health began to decline. She's really back to her old self, and truly she's better than EVER. Quite a wonderful thing to know that an 83 year old body can recover and heal. Woohoo!!

Other than that, my sister just learned that her health insurance premiums are being raised beyond what she can afford to pay. Almost as much as her mortgage. I am starting to consider some matchmaking so she can marry someone with health insurance. That's what it has come to in our country. Appalling is not even the right word, but it will suffice.

And on a final political note, given the weekend's nightmare events in the middle east, I wrote the following haiku.

nothing reminds more
than flames of ardent worship
that there is no god

Will the New Year return us to some sanity, please.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Round Rocks

What better gift is there than this: Our earth, a swirling blue planet in a limitless space. With its millions of life forms and more. Imagine here the colors of fish and flowers. The smell of forest and herbs. The sound of water and thunder. The taste of berries and walnuts. The feel of wind and snow falling. What better gift is there than this? The sight of ourselves rising from a moonscape.
We found this round rock on the beach last month. At first we thought it was a tennis ball covered with sand, simply deposited in the surf. We almost dismissed it, but couldn't dismiss our curiosity so went over to inspect it. Ah, a round rock and not one found by Pablo. Imagine that. So we took it home.

The day before Christmas, we placed the rock on a black sweater and photographed it. We wanted to see if it would look like a planet in space. What do you think? I think we made a handmade moon for you for Christmas.

Happy holidays to our fellow earth travelers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Watching Winter Begin

I wasn't sure I should go downstairs.

Roger's youngest and her partner were sleeping on the futon in the living room. I didn't want to run the risk of inadvertently waking them. To get outside I would have to slip past them and open the door, which is not more than ten feet from their closed eyes and even deep-dreaming breaths. I also felt I should suppress a natural inclination to just run excitedly down the steps and yell to them, "Wake Up Wake Up, come watch this sunrise with me." So, I tried to let that solstice sun rise outside the window and not let it pull me from my own comfy heated mattress and down pillows.

Then, the sun, sky, and clouds did this.
I looked at Roger and said, "I'm going down."
I threw on jeans and put a thermal vest over my long, Wildlife Land Trust tee shirt and tiptoed past the kids. I walked out, stood on the deck in the morning light and watched winter begin.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Year

If you were still here
Today you would be ninety
I can't stop counting

I used this photo once before on the post: My Father Rode a Pony Once

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fossils and Toes

Roger broke his toe the other day. It had absolutely nothing to do with this incredible fossil we saw on a recent minus-tide walk. He didn't stumble over it or anything like that. I just think the fossil and toe pics belong together because they're both bones. I must have a very simple mind. Did you ever wonder what you will leave behind? What part of you will persist long, long, long after you've drawn your last breath. I suspect Roger's toe will not end up fused and hardened to rock. Pity. It's such a nice toe. But here is some critter's ribs that made it through a lot of years. We are always struck by the utter randomness of leaving these ancient remnants. It's like they possessed a fortitude without effort. Nothing can will itself to such longevity. It's a luck of the elemental draw. Perfect conditions to die in.

Still Roger broke his toe the other day. He had a few things to say about it:

robin and i moved some furniture thursday. a small, heavy couch/foldout bed and a recliner chair had to go down a steep, narrow stairway with a tight bend at the top. i, foolishly, worked barefoot. hey, we were in the house and i don't wear shoes inside. no, nothing fell on my foot. the couch and chair were safely down, and i had only a few very minor skin scrapes to show. success. but wait. had i closed the exterior door at the bottom of the stairs? the cat could go out there and be at large. i was on the other side of the house so i darted in the through the open doorway here to go check on the other door. a small stumble as i darted through the door way caused my left foot to hit the jamb, exactly on that toe. OUCH!!!OW!OW!OW!

No way that toe is ever going to be fossilized. I just don't think it's going to have the luck of the draw. It would be cool though, wouldn't it? Some people have had their heads frozen (Walt Disney?), in a wishful effort to wake up after death in the future, but I think if I had a choice I would love to end up a fossil. Wouldn't you? Hey, now there's a new industry just waiting to be discovered: Fossilize Me, Inc.


without an x-ray picture or a seriously and obviously out-of-kilter toe, hanging sideways or pointing straight up, solid diagnosis of a broken foot digit is guesswork. we relied on pictures from the intertubes clearly labeled "broken toe." also on descriptions of severe pain. i could relate to the pain part and one of the pictures could have been of my toe. the universally suggested treatment seemed to be ice at first and taping the broken toe to a neighboring toe. if one support is good, i reasoned, two are better. after two days of splinting three toes together, relieved by an hour of freedom in the morning, the redness, which extended well up onto the foot, has mostly gone away, as has constant low-level pain. so i have freed the injured member from bondage. the second joint from the tip is still very sensitive to touch and walking is a bit uncomfy. thanks for the good wishes. i am on the mend, tho i will never play the piano again.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


...just before the sun goes down, it surprises you. It paints fire in the distant windows. It catches a light hazy fog and photoshops it like a master. It pulls you from dinner that's sizzling in the frying pan to run for the camera. It just won't happen again, not like this. Perfect angle of light on a December night. (Embiggen photo to get a better look.)

We've been in southern California visiting with my mom. Driving 420 miles home on Sunday. All is well. Mom is actually able to take steps with a walker. Bones knit. Healing happens. Slowly but surely.

Monday, December 01, 2008

low tide

embiggen at will

here is some homemade lorem ipsum.

this is a view of our local low tide walk, heading back west toward capitola. we haven't yet found a home. we're hoping to find something before the ongoing looting of the treasury bailout causes hyperinflation. we had a very nice, very low-key thanksgiving with friends. a dinner for 5. we did buy tofu on black friday, but we don't consider that "shopping."

ps: Robin Andrea says hi.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lorem Ipsum

When I worked at the university, which was so long ago an entire cohort of students have been and gone, I advised students who published the campus newspapers and journals. In that capacity I familiarized myself with all of the software they used daily. At the time we were using the full Adobe suite of Photoshop, In-Design, and Illustrator. I wasn't entirely proficient in any one of them, but I did enough troubleshooting to be a reliable onsite resource.

One of the things I loved about In-Design, Adobe's publishing program, was this little feature called Placeholder Text. It provided a way for students to create their templates and layouts and then fill them in with dummy text to get a sense of how it would all finally look. I loved the latin words that the program generated. They flowed beautifully on the page without distracting from the essence of layout.

I started thinking about that text the other day, when I realized that neither Roger nor I have very much to say here anymore. I could go into details about why that is, but whatever, it's just so. I googled Filler Text, thinking that I would just find that beautiful latin dummy text and place them here. I would feel quite fine and comfortable having those flowing words up on the blog for a while. Of course google gave much more than I asked for, and isn't that why we all love The Google?

So, here is the grand story of Lorem Ipsum. It's been good dummy text for five hundred years, so I think it could have a bit of a run here as well.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Nulla in pede. Aliquam condimentum ultrices massa. In placerat, magna ac consectetuer laoreet, velit lorem sollicitudin elit, in venenatis lorem quam et libero. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Nulla justo dolor, posuere eu, laoreet vitae, imperdiet a, tellus. Proin tempor interdum augue. Integer posuere. Phasellus nec quam vitae turpis mollis vestibulum. Morbi ac elit. Suspendisse potenti. Suspendisse viverra eros porttitor urna. Etiam imperdiet vulputate sapien. Integer ullamcorper felis. Duis pretium blandit justo. Suspendisse eget odio.

Nunc aliquet tristique est. Integer odio nibh, interdum vel, fermentum ac, congue et, est. Fusce sollicitudin, diam nec pellentesque pellentesque, dolor augue suscipit turpis, vitae imperdiet orci magna at nunc. Morbi augue sem, consectetuer sed, scelerisque vitae, elementum vestibulum, sapien. Cras purus turpis, congue a, pharetra tempus, tempus sollicitudin, lacus. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Fusce leo tellus, luctus at, venenatis eget, condimentum posuere, sem. Vivamus vel erat non pede vestibulum tempor. Pellentesque venenatis consectetuer massa. Nam enim metus, iaculis pellentesque, auctor a, luctus et, eros.

Until we return, I wanted to share the above pic I took the other day. I loved the Jungian aspect of shadow, self, and reflection; the way all three meet in an existential kiss; and how water, sun, and sand create this triptych of being.

Stay tuned for more Lorem Ipsum and photos in the future.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The More Things Change...

just like clockwork
mused the blind watchmaker
when the migrators returned

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The New Dawn of Leadership Is At Hand


Monday, November 03, 2008

West Coast Lady

How lucky to have photographed this West Coast Lady (Vanessa annabella) on Sunday, our first day back at the coast after our long journey south. So much can transpire in such a short amount of time. Realizations about age and life, about strength and desire, about expectations and disappointments. Against the backdrop of one of the most important elections of several generations, we confront the personal, the smallest facets of what it means to be human, to grow old, to have to summon from one's deepest reserves the simplest energy to merely go on.

Beautiful West Coast Lady, when I see of you, I think of my mother who started life as an east coast lady, but who now lives here on the edge of time before it shifts to tomorrow, in shades of light and darkness that shape everything. I look at your beautiful wings and remember the bad knee on her good leg that must support the shattered ankle on the bad. So much pain. Is this how all things must finally go?

On Halloween in Leisure World, the gated retirement community where my mother lives, the retired gatekeepers were dressed as a nun and the good witch of the north. The good witch waved her wand and said, "Welcome to the Land of Oz."

Then she said, "No, really this is the land of Was."


It is the Land of Was.

For a moment I thought of all the graveyards and of all the ashes scattered in the four directions-- all those artificial hips and artificial knees that promised everything, but most importantly, a future.

We left my mother in the kind, capable, and good hands of Nening, a woman from the Philippines, who in her own country was a civil engineer. We interviewed four home care agencies before we found this gentle, caring woman. When she came into my mother's bedroom, she and my mother hugged right away. It was the sign we were waiting for.

We're trying to figure out what it means to be human. No culture, no community, no history. We make it up as we go along. There are no reality TV shows about this. We are all that there is.



Sunday, October 26, 2008

When A Moth Makes Your Day

I keep trying to come up with something to say here. We seem to be in the midst of too many personal crises to even think about our lonely, little blog. I actually thought about creating a personal ad:


Between broken ankles and panic attacks, emergency appendectomies, and a rather crazy certain someone whose familial relationship shall not be identified, but whose self-centered, selfish, cantankerous ways are the stuff of family legend, we are at the frayed end of our old ropes. Tired. Very tired.

Still, we summon from some depths of ourselves the energy to hit the road one more time and drive south on Monday to spend the week with my mother. We hope to help her transition from the evil nursing home back to her own place with 24 hour home health care and some good home-cooked food. I keep telling her that just being back in her own bed with her laptop and three-weeks of email, great youtube videos, and Netflix movies, she'll be back to herself in no time.

Before the emotional deluge, we watched dolphins diving into the roiling surf, so close to shore we could make out what looked like an adult and two juveniles. Whales seem to come reliably into the bay along a very particular route, probably straight over the Monterey Canyon. We know where to look to find them on the horizon. When we have time, we actually remember to do it.

Lately in the wee hours of a still-dark morning we have been awakened by a barking sea lion. It is a sound that, even while being beautiful and wild in its own right, makes us long deep in our bones for a howling coyote and miles of woods and meadows around us.

We miss you. Heck, we miss ourselves.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Yellow Moon on the Rise

Sometimes the sky here is surreal. A yellow moon rose in the rosy sunset sky. Made us think of Neil Young and how lyrical the earth can be.

We're paying a lot of attention to politics lately, but not saying a word about it here. There is certainly no dearth of opinion already out there. You know us, you know what we hope will happen on November 4th. We've never wanted 18 days to fly by as quickly. As long as there are yellow moons rising, whales that flash their slick black flippers in the bay, and the sound of waves in a constant reassuring sea, we can abide.


(Embiggen the photo to really see the yellow moon. A totally un-Photoshopped photo)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Light Wednesday

I was hoping the photograph would convey just how red the wings looked on this very golden dragonfly in the afternoon sun. It reminded me of all the times I tried to photograph the diamond bright raindrops on the backyard trees, when the sun finally peeked through the clouds after a rain. The yard lit up like a Christmas scene every time, but the photographs never captured the tiny globes of shining light everywhere.
So, I followed this dragonfly to its perch. Its wings glittered and glinted like they were made of precious jewels. How could a camera grab an instant of light like that, I wondered.

(Photos should be embiggened.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Go 4 Rest Stop

We left southern California at 9:00 am Sunday morning, after stopping to see my mom at the nursing facility. She was sad to see us go, but knows we will be back in a two weeks to check in on her progress. She's really doing well, although, she is understandably frustrated. At 83, who wants to have to take on this kind of effort and burden? We reassured her that all of her physical therapists say that she has what it takes: strength and vitality, even if she is a bit forlorn about it all.

The only way to drive through LA is at 9:00 on a Sunday morning going 80 mph (128.75 km/h). Everyone else is either in church or at home hungover, either way pulling the blankets over their eyes. Excellent. We were on the other side of LA county by 10:15 and driving along the ocean at Santa Barbara by 11:20. Fast. Safe. Sailing.

We stopped at the first rest area on this stretch of highway. We had a little picnic. We always pack our own food for the road. Sitting at a cement picnic table, the highway sounds came in over our shoulders. We sat. We stared. We said a few words about everything. We stared some more. The wind was blowing the few fallen leaves and the movement caught my eyes. Was there something else? Maybe. Then the little brown head popped through the ground hole.

Hello there, little gopher. Mind if I come over to take a closer look?

Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do, this is as close as you get, lady.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Updates and Surprises!

We're here in Laguna Woods, just a few short miles from Laguna Beach in southern California. My mother was moved to a skilled nursing facility Thursday afternoon and will begin her physical therapy soon. It will be a long road back home, to here, where I'm sitting at her dining room table typing these words. Ankle breaks are not easy, and that's especially true for old bones. We are hopeful, and my mother is incredibly strong-- both physically and mentally for the efforts that lie ahead.Still, I worry. How could I not? I woke at 3:00 am Thursday morning and could not fall back to sleep. After a while, I decided I should just turn on the computer and take a look at the news. It's all been bleak lately, and the 4:00 am perusal confirmed that was still true. Then I noticed there was new mail in our newdharmabums yahoo account with the subject line "duck in a box." What in the world could that be about, I wondered?
Aha! A stunning surprise awaited us. Back in September we wrote about a seeing an unfortunate duck that was being held in a box, in very distressing circumstances. In the post I was lamenting how some humans treat animals. But here was an email with tenderest story about how that duck, the very duck whose fate I had been lamenting, had been rescued by two wonderful and kind-hearted people. They wrote to tell us the news. The duck is now living with other ducks and returning to "normal" duck life. As the note said, eating grubs and rooting around the yard.
Is that not the most hopeful story? And then to top it all off, another email arrived as I was typing this post. It was from our dear neighbors back in Port Townsend. They sent these photos of the bobcat mama and her little bobcat babe. Sure made us miss our old backyard, but how could any heart not be completely lifted into orbit by such great news and photos? I know the stock market is crashing, and the world simply looks bleak, but my mother is in a convalescent hospital only two days after surgery, Rose the Duck is free and being lovingly cared for, and bobcats still saunter beautifully through the woods on a quiet October afternoon.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Wednesday with Few Words

Today we are driving to southern California to see my mother who took a serious fall late Friday night and fractured her ankle in three (not two, as originally reported) places. She had surgery on Tuesday morning. All went well, but she will need several months of physical therapy. For now she will be completely off her feet and will soon be in convalescent care for a while. We're heading down to sit by her bedside in the hospital and oversee the move to the next facility. It's one of the reasons we moved back to the bay area. Close enough to get to her without too much trouble. Okay, the thought of driving through all of Los Angeles fills us with dread and trepidation, still we can get there in a long day's drive.

Not sure when we'll be able to update the blog. Until then, here's a photo of a sunset we watched the other evening. The sky was a different and changing color in every direction, and seemed suddenly bigger than what we could possibly see. It felt good to feel so small.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Objective Reality

Can we agree that there is an objective reality? That an otter is an otter, and a butterfly is a butterfly, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. Can we agree that a vice-presidential candidate should be able to take follow-up questions and answer them with some degree of coherence and logical syntax, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican?
Perhaps not.
We were just wondering.

The two otters were photographed late Saturday afternoon in Monterey Bay. The Common Buckeye butterfly was photographed Friday. Although, since reality is defined by our own predilections, we can decide what these are whenever we want to. In fact maybe they'd like to be vice president someday. They could you know.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Benefits of Distraction

Pain. It truly is a distraction. I can't have a sustained thought without wincing, especially if I move too quickly. I have no idea what I did, but for a full week now my lower back has been giving me grief. Every now and then I descend into the darkest of thoughts, it's not really a back ache, but something terribly wrong with my kidney, my colon, my descending aorta. I am going to die any minute, I swear something is about to rip apart and the face of an alien is going to burst from inside me. Pain.

So, I've been distracting myself with Suduko. Game after game. I don't want to read or think. I want to put numbers into squares and pretend that everything makes as much sense as that 1-9, over and over and over.

Still, the world outside of those squares seeps in. I hear there is going to be a debate tonight. Someone named Sarah Palin-- who doesn't know any other Supreme Court decision besides Roe v Wade, who believes global climate change is not man made, who knows that dinosaurs roamed our 6000 year old earth along side man, who knows more about oil and energy than any other American, whose foreign policy experience is limited to governing a state that has an island where Russia can be seen-- is going to debate some guy named Joe. You know, the one who talks a lot and says stupid things, but who really has actual practical experience. What does it matter? Doesn't confidence trump everything? And, that Palin girl is so nice and pretty.

My back hurts. Maybe it's not my back. Maybe I'm channeling the pain of a universe that's tired of our stupidity, our duplicity, our expediency. I'll just tag an extra $100 billion on this bailout bill and hope for the best. Stupid humans.

Didn't you think that we could be more than this? I did. I really did.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Breach

We were having a delicious dinner Thursday night. Roger cooked. Rice pasta and lots of veggies, a little pesto and some parmesan. We were having a serious discussion about how awful this particular time in our nation's history is. We see that there is simply no good outcome here with the bailout. It's all quite rotten through and through. I was sharp-tongued as always. You know, eff this, eff that. The Democrats have let us down. The Republicans are grandstanding. Blah blah blah.

Something caught Roger's attention, as he looked out the window at the beautiful, calm Monterey Bay. He had a quizzical look. I asked, "What's up?" He said, "I don't know I just saw a wave in the middle of the bay. Weird." So I looked out past my fury to where he was pointing. At that moment a whale breached. Up out of the water, its body turning as it fell back into the sea.*

We started screaming, right there at the dinner table, yelling for it to come up again. It didn't. We watched it as it moved out to sea, following the bursts of spray it made from time to time.

Oh that breach was breathtaking. A jolting surprise. A reminder of something wild. It was a breach, but wholly unlike the breach we had just been discussing, that chasm between us and those who govern. This breach reminded us gladly that the vagaries of national politics always fall to dust. But this planet, this stunning planet will spin on long past the time of our silly, greedy human presence. We were truly glad to be reminded.

We hope you have a great weekend, friends.

*(What we saw looked a lot like this picture that I "borrowed" from the internet.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Seven hundred billion dollars

One million dollars a day

For two thousand years

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bailouts, Ducks, Puppies, and Pelicans

Lots of things bug me. I'm just that kind of person. Bristly. I expect to be frustrated, thwarted, annoyed, and pissed off on a daily basis. I don't mind admitting that. I'm no maven of positive thoughts. I'm practically cursing under my breath at all times. But, there are some things that seriously push me over the edge. Hard.

Yeah, it bugs me that we're bailing out the financial market to the tune of $700 billion dollars. It's not that we didn't expect it, we did. Not exactly this unbelievable amount of money, but this bailout was inevitable. It's what Republican administrations do. They talk god, guns, and gays while robbing the coffers and lining their own pockets. They invest and pretend it's not a gamble. Only after they have mucked it as much as it can be mucked, they cry that the market won't survive their thievery unless we give them tax dollars to prop it up. Yep, the same tax dollars that they rant and rail against paying. How do they get away with it every damned time?

But even more than their global venality, what really has been bugging me is how people treat animals.

Before we left Arcata we went downtown looking for a small shop to buy a particular item that only that small shop sells. While we were looking for the store, we heard a duck quacking. Quite clearly. A duck was quacking its head off somewhere downtown. I looked up into the sky, expecting to see a flock passing overhead. But there was nothing. Then the duck quacked again. I looked over and there on the street corner was a young guy with a big backpack and a box. Arcata street corners are always full of young people heading north and south, with backpacks and all manner of baby critters (kittens and puppies) on leashes and strings. But here was a guy with a duck in a box, and the duck was quacking some message of discomfort. So, he literally held the duck's bill closed. It was all I could do to keep from going over there and smashing him, taking his duck to the marsh and setting it free. I should have called animal protection services, but I didn't. I just added the experience to the sum of experiences that remind me why other humans and I don't get along.

I could rant at length about all the puppies and kittens we saw all summer long tethered to people who had absolutely no business caring for their tender likes. One story says it all: On a day when the temperature was pushing a hundred degrees and the pavement was hot as hell, a shirtless young man was walking the highway shoulder. He had his pack on his sweaty back, and on a leash was a puppy so young and small that it obviously was struggling to keep up. That puppy was walking on a blacktop that had to have been searing his little toes. Oh yes, I muttered every profanity I could think of and looked away. Such unbearable thoughtlessness and contempt for other living things must not be stared at for too long. Otherwise, it creeps into your heart and sours you on the whole of humanity. I know.

There is simply no end of cruelty we visit upon defenseless creatures. There are the big stories of how we are poisoning the earth, heating it beyond livability, degrading the very things we all need to survive. Yes, I think these stories merely convey our general duck and puppy disdain writ large upon the earth. Everyday there are smaller stories like this about eleven pelicans with broken wings. Someone actually snapped back the wings of eleven pelicans, and left them to die. Only one survived. What are the pelicans doing hanging out so close to humans that they can be grabbed and brutalized? Well, the warmer ocean temps have driven their food deeper into cooler water, leaving the pelicans hungry at the surface. There's even a hungry juvenile here that hangs out on the wharf looking for handouts from the tourists and locals who have come to fish. We see him everyday, sitting on the railing, waiting for food.

And yes, probably, for every horrible story like these are the stories of good works being done on behalf of these creatures. But the good works come as a response, are therapeutic interventions after the fact of our contempt, like a game of catch up that has no end.

Yeah, it really bugs me.
I think we should let the markets fail.
I should have stolen the duck and the puppy.
I should learn how to rescue this pelican, to make up for all the rest.


Barack has a much better idea:

First, there must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money.

Second, taxpayers shouldn't be spending a dime to reward CEOs on Wall Street.

Third, taxpayers should be protected and should be able to recoup this investment.

Fourth, this plan has to help homeowners stay in their homes.

Fifth, this is a global crisis, and the United States must insist that other nations join us in helping secure the financial markets.

Sixth, we need to start putting in place the rules of the road I've been calling for for years to prevent this from ever happening again.

And finally, this plan can't just be a plan for Wall Street, it has to be a plan for Main Street.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Watching Roger Fly

Here's a screen grab from a flight tracking website. There goes Roger, flying back to Arcata to pick up the pick-up truck and haul one more trailer of crap... ummm... important stuff to us. What a crazy thing it is to be able to follow his airplane from right here on my little laptop. He's there over the amazing blue Pacific winging his way back. You know how wild it is up there in Humboldt; Roger posted that photo of the bridge that tries to bridge the untameable earth to some cemented tame piece that won't crumble or be crushed by mountains of falling rock. So, you won't be surprised to know that the plane he is on is a Embraer Brasilia EMB-120, just a wee bit of thing carrying only 30 passengers. It's not like they need a jet, not many people fly to this piece of the earth.
So, I am following his progress. Missing him already. Sigh.
Before we left Arcata, a wonderful flock of warblers came to feast on the insects in the backyard fruit trees. I haven't been able to completely identify them, but I think they might be Nashville Warblers. Very cute, hyperactive, flighty things. Any help in ID'ing them would be appreciated.

Other than that, the economy is in a tailspin. We absolutely knew that this was going to happen, but shit, if it doesn't knock us out when it actually does. We hope you are all safe and well, and managing to weather this crisis without too much loss.

Despite what the Republicans say, the fundamentals are not strong, and whether they understand it or not, we're all in this together.

Monday, September 15, 2008

a bridge to somewhere

we drove down highway 101 from arcata to santa cruz this past sunday. the bigger part of the way is freeway. some of the two-lane stretches are fairly straight and only moderately uphill or down. other segments are quite narrow and twisting and steep. the picture above was taken from a small turnout on a part of the road chiseled across a rock face about a hundred feet above the bottom and a hundred feet below the top. a long way to fall off the edge and a lot of rock above to fall onto the road. the bridge will replace maybe a mile and a half of narrow, twisty, steep, obviously difficult and expensive and dangerous to maintain road. there are bright orange signs for both directions warning "KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD." neither of us had ever seen a sign like that before. its need is obvious here. construction has been going on for at least a year. maybe it will be finished before the oil runs out.

i first traveled north to humboldt county in 1971. there was not so much freeway then. no spotlights at night illuminating the the rock faces where chunks of various sizes fall at random times. progress happens. now one can see the rock hurtling down to crush one's car, with no space or time to avoid it. i may have preferred a quick, unexpected death in the dark.

i fly back to arcata wednesday to drive 101 south again thursday with our fully loaded pickup truck, which is at our former house. then we are moved well and completely. then we begin looking for a home.

cat update......bonsai was nervous for several days before we traveled, what with everything packed and our rugs rolled up. he was upset and whining for almost an hour as we set out. we talked to him. robin pet him (i was driving). after a bit he climbed up into robin's lap and calmed enough to drowse. he has never been any sort of lap cat for more than 3 uncomfortable seconds. he then went to sleep on the floor in back, staying there except to eat some kibble when we stopped to feed ourselves. he was a good traveler.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In The Moment

We spent a good part of the afternoon with Indigo and her wild mustang. She wanted us to meet him before we left Humboldt. She's been working with him for a year. Three weeks ago he finally felt safe enough to let her put a halter on him. He comes now when she whistles. We watched her put the halter on, take it off, put it back, talk to him tenderly, teach him with the most minimal hand movements to come, go, step forward, step back. She taught us how much she knows this world, this language of animal. We were in awe. He had been a feral horse for five years, just two years ago. Now he takes apple from our outstretched hands. Indigo took the time to earn this trust, this moment.

Later, she came over for dinner. We had a conversation that reminded us of this Gary Snyder poem. We lamented the times we're living in, but we also regaled each other with the stories of the incredible cosmicity of the moment. We asked each other, when did you wake up and see the universe for what it is? We told the stories of our own awakenings to the biggest picture of all. How different they were, how much the same. Our eyes sparkled in the telling. In the moment on earth, wondering how we got here: in our skin, in our families, in our country, on this planet. Then we remembered now, the day and times, Ah America we could almost love you again.

So, I looked up Snyder's poem, googling American I could almost love you again. How wonderfully coincidental that Gary Snyder walked into the Maverick Bar. We have our own Maverick these days, and don't you forget it. Oh America...

I Went into the Maverick Bar
by Gary Snyder

I went into the Maverick Bar
In Farmington, New Mexico.
And drank double shots of bourbon
backed with beer.
My long hair was tucked up under a cap
I'd left the earring in the car.

Two cowboys did horseplay
by the pool tables,
A waitress asked us
where are you from?
a country-and-western band began to play
"We don't smoke Marijuana in Muskokie"
And with the next song,
a couple began to dance.

They held each other like in High School dances
in the fifties;
I recalled when I worked in the woods
and the bars of Madras, Oregon.
That short-haired joy and roughness--
America--your stupidity.
I could almost love you again.

We left--onto the freeway shoulders--
under the tough old stars--
In the shadow of bluffs
I came back to myself,
To the real work, to
"What is to be done."

(Poem borrowed without permission.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Rocks Too Heavy To Flip

This post is dedicated to Don who passed away Saturday night. Even though we never met, you became part of our lives and our hearts. You are a brother who has walked his thousand miles. Rest in peace, friend.

Roger and I headed out on Sunday to flip a rock. No, that's not quite true. We headed out to remember someone we knew by word and heart; to walk off the stress of making yet one more move; to see a small piece of this beautiful, swirling planet. If a rock presented itself, we were fully prepared to flip it for International Rock-Flipping Day
First we saw this. No need to flip this rock. Look at that dragonfly. It fulfills all the promise that could have been hidden underneath.
Then there was this. There is no way we could have lifted this rock. Besides, we would not have wanted to disturb this little beauty enjoying the sun on a late afternoon.
And then there were these guys, four rather rambunctious river otters. They were putting a mighty big scare on Klopp Lake and coming up with fish much bigger than we ever imagined were there.
They each took a turn coming up on to this rock and peeing. What a fine little territorial trick these river otter parents were teaching their babies. Didn't flip this rock, and probably wouldn't have even if we could.

So ended International Rock-Flipping Day. We saw rocks that we did not flip, but oh were thrilled by the life teeming on top.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bobcats in LA

We couldn't resist this story. You know how much we love bobcats. Enjoy.

Oh, and about that mountain lion walking around the charming little town of Capitola. It's still prowling the shopping areas along Soquel Creek, which is about 1/4 of a mile from the house we are moving into at the end of the month. Whee!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Give 'em Hell, Joe

Do you love this? We do. Makes us happy. We're doing our happy dance. "I'm gonna tell them the truth, and they're going to think it's hell." Oh baby.

Quite Literally

We're back in Arcata, tired as old dogs.

Holy shit the world is a freakin' mess. We've been political junkies all of our lives, but the prospect of a fellow citizenry "electrified" by Sarah Palin may have finally done us in. How could anyone in their right minds want to follow up these past eight years with this McCain/Palin ticket? We simply cannot comprehend. Perhaps we're too old or too tired, or maybe it's just that we love the constitution and its protections and can't understand what our country is without it. OMG, if we hear another word about god, we're going to have to do something reckless.

What has our country become? I swear, we don't recognize it.

When we were in the beach house on Wednesday the phone rang. I picked it up. It was a recording. It said: This is the Santa Cruz Country Sheriff's office reporting that there was a mountain lion sighted at the Capitola Mall at 3:30 am. It was last seen heading toward the Soquel mountains. If you see this lion do not approach it, but call the sheriff's office.


But wait, the call came in at 12:30 pm, a full nine hours after the sighting. How the heck are we supposed to see this creature if they gave it a nine hour head start?

Excellent reverse 9-1-1 call though. Our favorite of all time.

On the ride back to Arcata Thursday, Roger drove north between Santa Cruz to just over the Golden Gate Bridge. I took the wheel there driving through the golden rolling hills of the wine country, the gateway to the Redwood empire. Somewhere around Santa Rosa, I inadvertently cut off a driver in the passing lane who was completely in my blind spot in my rear view and side mirror. He honked his horn. I was appropriately sheepish. Then he decided he should pass me on the right and cut me off, not once, not twice but three times. Roger and I were shocked. His aggression was dangerous and scary. He was playing chicken at 70 mph.

I figured he'll probably vote the McCain/Palin ticket. If he had killed us, he could have posed triumphantly with his bounty.

We're glad to report that we made it back safely.

Somehow we still love our country despite its yahoo freakin' stupidity. We love pelicans the most. In fact, we think this year should be called the Year of the Pelican. We're certain if pelicans could vote, they'd all be Democrats.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On The Road Again

It was much easier to be our nomadic selves when all we had to do was pack a rucksack and go. Life was really like that in the late 60s and early 70s on the road, thumb out and a hopeful smile. The journey was part of the trip (or vice versa), does that make sense? Roger could climb into the back of a van, pot smoke wafted out the open van doors, and a crew of strangers about to become friends greeted him. I traversed the coast highway between LA and San Francisco a half a dozen times the first summer my family moved to California. Camping with fellow travelers on Garrapata Beach, getting my first taste of California's high tides and a wet sleeping bag. Of course that all ended for various reasons, but it sure was easier back then to just pick up and go.

Today we're making the first of three journeys between Humboldt County and Santa Cruz. Our pick up truck is packed, and we're pulling a little trailer. We're dividing the loads, so when it comes time to pack the U-Haul, some time around the equinox, it will be a lighter trip and easier for us to do ourselves.

Yes, of course we're much too old to be such gypsies, but when we sold our house in Washington, we had no idea that we would not fall in love with Humboldt or that my mom's health would require vigilant advocacy. Life is like that you know, plans go awry. How could we have ended up in this crazy little house that gets no sunshine even on the blazing-est of days? How could we have known that these enticing hills and mountains have very little housing stock, and the land is really better suited for grazing cattle than cultivation, or is otherwise towering redwood forest beautiful dark and deep?

We keep old plans for new scenarios. The same dream unfolds for us, the one that took us to the shores of Port Townsend Bay, Humboldt Bay, and this roaring Pacific. We'll plant ourselves again, as full of promise as any seed in fertile soil. It's not magic to expect great things, it's what's in our cells. My crazy cosmic self thinks the same is true for you.

Still, it's a challenge. A U-Haul is not a rucksack and we look askance at all that we have gathered. It's a good thing we don't have to carry it all on our backs.

Monday, September 01, 2008


We are resilient. Despite all the broken dreams, we still awaken every morning fully expecting that the world has finally come around and accorded to our vision of it. We really do, don't you?

It's not like life has been all that incredibly good that it warrants such optimism, and if you really knew us, you might even suspect that we are not all that optimistic. Yet, we recognize this thing in ourselves, this strange anomaly, a feeling, a desire, a belief, a dream that is never completely extinguished no matter what. How wild it is when we actually take notice of it. There it is.


On Thursday evening when Barack Obama spoke at the Democratic Convention, we were reminded of this:

Please don't wake me, no don't shake me, leave me where I am, I'm only dreaming.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008


We haven't written much about where we are living at the moment. A little house in a college town, and classes start Monday. The quiet summer has drawn to a close. The backyard fruit trees are full. Are there any better signs of the season?
In response to many of you who have asked what we are doing? Are we house hunting? Searching for land? Well, yes, but not here. We are moving back to Santa Cruz in September and plan to live out the rest of our life dream there. There are a million reasons why we are moving back, but the three top ones are these: we need to live much closer to our mothers; we need to live much closer to our friends; we need more sunlight for our old and aging bones.
I've been helping my mom through her medical odyssey. You have no idea how incredibly fucked up the medical/pharmaceutical world is these days. My mom ended up in the hospital last year with "pneumonia" but has never fully recovered. She's been on Prednisone since then, but whenever the dosage is reduced beyond a certain level, the pain of her persistent lung inflammation returns. She's been to see several SPECIALISTS, and has been put on other medications, but with no good results.
When we were down there for the family reunion, I did a google search on: pain management pleuritic condition. I found interesting information, but one pharmacy site in particular had a lot to say about NSAIDs, and an incredible table that listed several medications that were known to cause pleural effusion (fluid). I checked the list and found one of the drugs my mom had been prescribed in early 2007: Simvastatin.

So, I pursued the Simvastatin lead and googled: Simvastatin pleurisy; Simvastatin lupus; Simvastatin Rheumatoid arthritis. (The SPECIALISTS my mom had seen thought her symptoms seemed lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis-like.) The search yielded results that absolutely shocked us. There have been several medical articles since the mid-1990s that discussed something called Simvastatin-induced lupus-like syndrome. WHAT? OMG. My mother has been suffering for a year as a result of a prescription, and her doctors simply did not know. They hadn't read the finest of fine print and made the connection.
I do have to say on their behalf that when my mother brought them the printouts of the articles, they received them and responded with gratitude and affirmation. She has given up the Simvastatin and is now reducing the Prednisone and plans to be fully restored to good health. It's going to take a few months, but we are all hopeful.

It is hard to imagine what life would be like without the ability to do our own research online about these health and life altering things. To think that I might not have been able to intercede and help, and that she might have to continue to suffer just knocks me out.

So, fruit. Yes.