Thursday, January 29, 2009

Now the Photos

Maybe it's not really true that a picture is worth a thousand words. I think the words in the previous post painted a picture that conveys more than the photograph itself. Perhaps the sense of the seer adds a bit to the seen.

Here is the Western Grebe. Do those legs seem crazy in the dreamy underwater quiet? I thought they did.

And here's the dolphin.
What can possibly be known by this view? A wide angle lens would show even less. I am more drawn to details of the world. Still, the expanse of the sea gives so much room for daydreaming about such things.

Updates: As it turns out I tried the power cord one more time on Wednesday before we left to go buy a new one. Suddenly the thing worked, lit up and started charging the computer. We therefore had time to go hiking in this amazing spring-like weather. Our lives were completely enriched by the experience. Our blog even has a new banner to show for it. There will be another post about those encounters soon. Suffice to say, all the critters seemed to think we are in the season of love.

Roger had his toe x-rayed Tuesday because it seemed to not be healing quite as quickly has we would have liked. The doctor confirmed that he had in fact fractured it, but that there's not much to do but tape it to the toe next to it and give it time. He was up for the good hike we took Wednesday, and his toe did not complain one bit.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No Photos Wednesday

I had an idea for a post today. Even though it could be a wordless Wednesday, I had a few words to say about what it's like to have telephoto sensibilities in a wide angle world. Here on the bay, the view is expansive. It must be nearly twenty miles of uninterrupted perspective out of every window. It occurred to me the other day that I had spent the past four years looking very closely at things-- baby spiders in sunlit webs, frozen petals on wild iris blooms, tiny bird eggs in ground nests beneath knee-high grasses. These miles of wide open water-- blue or gray depending on the sky, calm or choppy depending on the wind, full of flaming color depending on the rising or setting sun-- demand an adjustment in my internal viewfinder. An adjustment that I can't seem to make. My sight wants intimacy that is not found staring out at sea.

So, I had two photos to post here. One was a beautiful Western Grebe propelling itself through the true green waters of the bay. I zoomed as closely as I could with a 12 X optical zoom. The Grebe's feathers glinted in the bright afternoon sun, while its crazy legs paddled along in a dreamy underwater quiet. The other photo was of a dolphin out in the bay, a dorsal fin rising out of sky-blue water. A black form, close enough to identify, but far enough away to maintain its utter secrecy. The photos were to convey my sense of struggle between the telephoto and wide-angle world.

Unfortunately on Tuesday, I inadvertently dragged my computer's power cord through the cat's water bowl. It's something only a person in a harried moment doing too many things at once (baking bread, cleaning off the table, listening to Air America streaming off the internet) can do. Now my computer with the grebe and dolphin photos cannot be charged and is inaccessible at the moment.

So, that's my story why there are no photos here on a Wordless Wednesday, just a lot of words. New power cord will be bought-- $71. Ah, Apple.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Walking on the Wild Side

It's always in the back of our minds when we walk along this beach, which is only accessible at a minus tide under the fossil-rich cliffs of Capitola, that huge pieces of this cliff crash occasionally and unpredictably down on to the beach. We've read in the local paper of people who have been killed here by the huge rocks, trees, and crushing earth. We're always careful; we walk as far out to the water's edge as we can, without getting our shoes soaked. We have always assumed that we'd be safe there. How far could those rocks fall in the crack of an instant?
Well, it turns out that very quickly rocks bigger than me and Roger fall all the way into the bay. That's fifty feet from the base of the cliffs to the lowest tide mark. Yikes. This pile of earth, trees, and cliff-face came crashing down last week (if you click on the pic you'll see a bit of fossil bed on the rocks to the right of Roger-- opposite to the direction he's pointing in). Lucky for us we were not on the beach that day, but that's only happenstance. This is our favorite minus tide walk, and we'll definitely be climbing and clambering over these newly fallen rocks at the next one. But I suspect we'll be a little more circumspect about the real dangers when we do this. It won't stop us, but it does have a sobering effect.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What We've Been Up To

In the past two weeks Roger and I have gone three times to look at a piece of property in the hills of northern Monterey County. Five acres; good garden area; and the plainest, most absurdly oriented house with the worst floorplan ever conceived and constructed. Despite the house, we keep going back. It's that garden space, but it's also the utter earthly quietness of the place. When we drive up the long driveway, turn off the car engine, there are no sounds except for the wind blowing the old still-standing cornstalks, sounding like the rustle of parched paper in an autumn that never quite ended. We hear songbirds singing off in the leafy canopy and a rooster somewhere crowing. Then quiet. We stand outside there just to listen to that.
Each time we've gone we've seen this red-tailed hawk flying low and lazily over the yard, hummingbirds silhouetted in the top of the madrones, and chickadees flitting in the massive oaks. Across the canyon is a 40-acre horse ranch, and the neighbor up the road let us check out his high speed internet connection that he gets via radio waves. Quite impressive.
The drawbacks are many though, and we are wondering where we'd begin if we ever bought the place. The upside is that the house is completely move-in-able, clean and only eight years old. It is utterly charmless and without character, but that wouldn't deter us. It's everything else. The house really should be picked up and moved. The south wall should have a bank of windows, instead it's got a laundry room and utility closet for the water heater and furnace, a walk-in closet for the master bedroom, and the sinks and mirror for the bath. C'mon folks, it's the south wall, what were they thinking? The living room faces north, and while it is certainly a lovely view across a wide expanse of canyon and sky, it's always going to be a dark room. Are these things surmountable? We're not sure.

So we keep going back to look, to listen. Each time we do, the hawk flies over wondering when we human interlopers will leave so he can get back to the moles, voles, and gopher holes that dot the front yard. We keep looking back at him, wondering if he'll be our neighbor? We're just not sure yet, we'll keep you posted.

PS-- We love Barack Obama more now than we did when we voted for him. His first day in office delighted us to no end. OBAMA!

Monday, January 19, 2009

At Last

Some of us didn't have to wait so long. Unlike my 56 years, and Roger's 66, one of my first-cousins twice removed had to wait only three months for this moment. Who would have ever guessed that we would have to suffer through and endure the most monstrous years of the worst president in US history to finally get here? I'd say my little loved ones are very lucky to be so young in this new world.
Every blog we read, everywhere we turn, there is a promise of something, an upwelling. Here in the midst of winter, a catastrophic economic downturn, a global climate undergoing massive change, and ancient wars still raging-- we actually feel relief, hope, and joy.

Now our national nightmare is over.

We have a new beginning, this genius of our democracy.

At last.

Top photo my cousin's son's children.
Second photo sunrise on a new day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Post From Bed

Full moon rising January 10 taken from the upstairs window
First Roger got sick, and then I did. Still am. A very sore throat and heavy congestion. So the world goes on without us. Roger has been taking good care of me, cooking all the meals and cleaning up. I've been staying in bed, except when we've gone out to look at property. Oh, and there were those two minus tide walks that I definitely should not have taken. I had been feeling somewhat better, but the three miles on the second walk pushed me back and extended my recovery period. To be perfectly honest, I felt so much worse after the second walk I was almost embarrassed to have done something so stupid. I didn't even get a good photograph of anything.

Red-shouldered hawk photographed December 31
I haven't been sick in a long time. Not this kind of rhino-virusy sick. We're pretty sure that our sauna must have provided us with a lot of protection because viruses never got the better of us. Right now this one is seriously kicking my butt. What do people do when they're sick in bed? I don't watch TV, and reading requires too much thought and engagement. I don't even have the energy to leave comments on all my favorite blogs. I'm checking in with you, even if I don't say hello.
Hawk and moon photoshopped on a Sunday afternoon
I still get up to watch the sun and moon rise. That takes about a half hour. Then what? I look at photos for inspiration. Wouldn't it have been cool if the hawk had been on the roof when the moon came up? A little photoshopping just to see. After that, I'm a terribly impatient patient.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

An Odyssey

It all began when Tara said a tongue twister on New Year's Eve. We were having one of those conversations about everything-- childbirth, the mind's ability to forget the physical sensation of pain, god, atheism, death, humans, tribes. You name it, we talked about it. Some time in the evening she said: rubber baby buggy bumpers.

At first I thought she said the name of a film I had long ago forgotten, but she said it was just a tongue twister. But why did it remind me of a film title? And what was the film? Well, googling rubber baby buggy bumpers did not yield any movies. What was I thinking?

On the first day of the year, Roger was sick and so was the cat. Actually the cat was on the mend after two visits to the vet. One for a routine check up on the 30th, and the other on the 31st for emergency hydration and kitty ibuprofen to counteract the side effects of the vaccines we had stupidly allowed him to be given. Roger was pretty damned sick, though. He had a cough and was running a 101.5 fever by the time night fell.

I made a big pot of chicken soup, but was still sidetracked by the idea of a movie. Something from the early 60s by an avant garde, experimental filmmaker, a four-word title and one of them was baby. What was it? What was it? Then I remembered a second word, water. I googled baby water film. There it was: Window Water Baby Moving by Stan Brakhage. An extremely intimate look at the birth of his first daughter in 13 dizzyingly close, close-up minutes. Okay, problem solved. (Be forewarned, if you watch the film, it's graphic in the sense that in our culture we hide human bodies, and do not regularly see a woman's body this intimately unless it's meant for prurient interest, which this is NOT.)

But what was Stan Brakhage up to anyway? Well, he's dead. He died in 2003, but before that, he had hooked up with a fellow professor at the University of Colorado, the rather avant garde microbiologist and inventor, Igor Gamow (son of a famous cosmologist, whose work lent theoretical support to the big bang theory). Further research led us to look for a film that we thought would be pretty interesting: Dinner with Brakhage and Gamow. Imagine listening in on their dinner conversation. We thought that could be pretty edifying.

Unfortunately, only a short trailer for the film is available. We did find another film of Igor Gamow's life, but it wasn't all that interesting. It did however yield the very beautiful music of Peppino D'Agostino. If you like fine acoustic guitar music, this guitarist will absolutely delight you. One of his songs was the soundtrack on the Gamow biography. How lucky to have followed that lead.

By January 2nd, Roger was feeling well enough to take a short walk down to the wharf. Everyday we see fishermen and deliverymen, sweethearts and families amble up and down here on these old planks. When we got to the end of the wharf we found this rose. Someone among the daily throngs had left it there for his recently deceased wife. The attached note said that he had proposed to her there nine years earlier and thanked her again for saying yes. It struck us as a singularly beautiful gesture, and a poignant end to an odyssey.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hello Goodbye

I keep thinking of a line from the Beatles Hello Goodbye "Hello hello. I don't know why you say good bye. I say hello. Hello hello."

Yes, instead of waving good bye to that old 2008, we are shouting hello to 2009.

New Year's Eve is an anniversary for Roger and me, reminding us of yet another Beatles tune, "It was 20 years ago today..." We met on New Year's Eve 1988-89. You can read about it here and see all of our goofy pictures. We're older and grayer now, but not much wiser. (You'll also notice that we had different blogging names then: Dread Pirate Roger and RD.)

On the last day of the year this old hawk friend showed up. We've been seeing him around lately, but today he landed close by and let us take a good long look at him. Not sure how the hunting is around here. He's been flying from rooftop to tree, from tree to roof, with nothing to show for his efforts. We hope the new year fills his belly.

Hello hello.