Monday, November 30, 2009

Perseverance Furthers

I woke in the middle of the night and two words floated mysteriously into my head: perseverance furthers.
What the heck does that mean? It's 2:00 am, and I am trying to remember where I know these words, when it hits me, it's from the I Ching. The I Ching? How long has it been since I counted out yarrow sticks to divine meaning from the moment? More than thirty-five years. Yet here I was lying in bed, contemplating two words straight out of those sweet, new-age hippie days on the 14-acre farm in West Linn, Oregon circa 1974, and now stirred the night with their mystical divinations.
Perseverance furthers.

So, in the morning I googled "I Ching" and found this from the very first hexagram:

The creative works sublime success,
Furthering through perseverance.

It actually doesn't matter that this really means nothing to me. I am more struck by the remembering of the words than considering the absurd poetry of hexagrams divined by yarrow sticks or coin tosses.
What I know is that I have been trying to photograph trees that are lit like fire by the setting sun.

I had Roger show me how to use the digital camera with manual settings to open the aperture more and close the shutter more quickly. I needed light and speed to capture these wildly lit moments.

Light doesn't always materialize in exactly the place it is expected. The trees stay green at the end of the day, their needles dark and calm, where two days before they had been utterly transformed. The rains come too, folding sunset into its endless gray. The sunset orange glow rays move on, especially now that the sun is diving south as quickly as it can to reach solstice at its celestially appointed hour.
But I did persevere and found the lingering light in some trees across the road. I've read that this affect is called alpenglow, the low angle of the sun and maybe a bit of high altitude. I don't know. I am just awestruck by the fire of it and am glad to see it burn like blazing embers in the trees.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I Keep Trying Without Much Luck

The previous post's photos simply don't capture the crazy thing that happens around here at the end of the day's light. Some trees simply catch on fire with the last of the sun's rays. But what's weird is that not all of them do; trees right next to each other look completely different in the waning light. This tree all lit up is NOT deciduous. That's a fir tree in the setting sun. How is that possible? Have you ever seen it before? I haven't. (Definitely embiggen the pic.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Forest Light

Monday, November 23, 2009

Driving As Fast As We Can

I had a funny conversation while Skyping with my twin brother the other morning. Well, it was funny to me, but that's because I have a terribly morbid sense of humor. You don't know that about me but it's true. My brother is a sweetheart of a man. He is a social worker who serves the schizophrenic and bipolar community in the county just south of where he lives. He commutes 80 miles daily (that's round trip), and is very conscious of his mileage and his carbon footprint. Well over a year ago, he decided to not drive over 60 mph, which is slow for California drivers on almost any highway, but that was his commitment. Until the other day, when it occurred to him that the earth is a complete mess, and is really not going to recover while we humans are still on it. So rather than driving slowly to impede the slow destruction, he's decided to drive as fast as he can to assist in the demise. He told me, "I'm driving 75 mph now." We laughed about it until tears rolled down our cheeks. I told him I wanted a bumper sticker that says:

We roared.

Except some part of us was solemnly serious. We grew up in a household without formal religion, so we always placed our faith in our fellow humans, in community and in government. But we see that even a faith in things that can be seen and known can be as absurd as any other. We had a dark awakening, a bleak epiphany accompanied by a bit of hysteria. Perhaps there is a certain relief in not believing anymore that we can effect a change, work to make things better. That head-banging gets old pretty fast, well I mean after 40 years of it, you finally do have to see what's in front of you. A handful of earth-firsters and recyclers are not going to save the world. For the most part, it's already over. Is that an awful thing to say or think out loud? It won't be a dramatic 2012 scenario, but the slow agony of little losses that will eventually amount to the loss of everything. Do you see that too? Or is there some shining hope on your horizon that actually makes sense? We see there is hardly the will in our government to end wars; provide a basic human right to health care; or even to have a serious conversation about global climate change (Oh Copenhagen, you can drop dead). We're a mess on every measurable scale. It is completely acceptable to privatize profit and socialize loss; to protect the mighty while they stand on the backs of the weak and fallen. Our fellow citizens exalt inanity; foster the apotheosis of insipid politicians; and stare blankly at television screens while eating foods that will never in a million years actually nourish them (but have a shelf-life lasting that long). It's a mighty bleak landscape, one that requires maximum speed for traversing.

So, how could we not laugh? We laughed. I mean really laughed. Like there's no tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wordless Friday: Alert and Asleep


Monday, November 16, 2009

For The Thousandth Time...

You'd think with something as momentous as the one thousandth post, we'd have something lined up to dazzle you. Hah! Slackers like us? You must know us better than that by now. Although it's certainly not for lack of trying that a dazzling post didn't materialize here. Not even looking back at our humble beginning and our forays into politics or our first encounters with:bald eagles in Port Townsend;
or the neighborhood bobcat;or this luscious tidal estuary; or amazing sunrises;or sunsets that set the sky ablaze;

could spark something to set this post on fire.

Suffice to say, we have seen things that confirmed our wildest dreams, and
our deepest fears.

We've tossed our lives so high in the air, we have yet to securely touch down. Who knew that our private lives would intersect with a global economic crisis that would have a direct impact on the very thing we need to settle down? Not us. Still we keep looking around with our aging eyes and challenged spirits, seeking out the things that invoke awe and inspiration.
Luckily, there's always something. Like this young orphaned doe that comes to our yard to sniff out the apples (that we furtively put out for her) and nibble away at them. She reminds us that the instinct for survival is intrinsic to life from the beginning.

Roger sez:

our one thousandth post, a kilo-gram if you will. a time to look back over the past year's posts and consider blogging. we humans do like numbers with zeroes. how fun it is to look back at our life through the lens of blogger. yes, my own contributions have dribbled off to almost nonexistent, and i was not prolific in the best of times. without a blog though i would probably have written zilch.

while i do enjoy looking back, i realize that what i value most about blogging is the people we have met online, and in a few cases, in person. such a wide range of opinions, ages, interests, and locations. i've gotten an at-least-college-intro-class level education in botany, marine science, medicine, evolution, politics of all sorts, and economics. i know quite a bit about many places i will never visit. all of this reading the posts of interesting and vital people speaking for the most part in conversational language.

So, will there be a second thousand? It may take us ten years instead of this speed-by five, but hey, who's counting when it's been so much fun? Hah!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We Saw A Bear, But Here's A Squirrel

Squirrels are just easier to photograph, and the bear was running so fast, I wasn't even sure it was a bear until my brain registered BEAR! We really did see bear on Tuesday (my very first one!), while we were hiking the Banner Cascade ditch trail. It came bounding down off the hillside, splashed into the irrigation ditch, crossed the trail about 25 yards in front of us and then thrashed down the very steep ravine on the other side.

When we see a squirrel, our brains don't shout SQUIRREL, but when we see a BEAR, the shout is unmistakable.

Photo is of a Western Gray Squirrel. We have a very rambunctious family living in our yard. They are really cute rodents, and incredibly industrious.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Life in the New Country

This is post #998.
Here is our little yearling photographed in mid-October. Her small loneliness made us want to run out and learn how to be her comfort.
Here she is on Saturday. We have grown very fond of her and look forward to every one of her tentative visits. She's tiny and has the most beautiful soulful eyes. She is always alone.
On Sunday I stuffed my pockets full of apples from a tree that grows along one of the ditch trails. I scattered them about the yard for the little one to find. I don't feel guilty about it.
Last Sunday we walked to the little falls at Rush Creek. Every place we explore opens our eyes to the nuance of local color and light.
Even just looking out the window across the road, the light is beautiful especially in the late afternoon.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

local stuff

the red things in the foreground meter irrigation water in miner's inches drawn out to paying customers.
along the banner cascade trail

my beginning look into the history and development of the canals in nevada county, sometimes called miner's ditches, confirmed how little i know and how fascinating are the canals and the larger story of gold mining on the western slope of the sierra nevada mountains.

nevada is a spanish word meaning snow covered. sierra (literally saw, as in handsaw with teeth, related to serrated) translates as jagged mountain range. kind of stuns me that i grew up in california and didn't know that. from the superb history section of a very nice book titled "Yuba Trails" by Susan Lamela and Hank Meals (here is the updated edition by Hank Meals. Susan Lamela died in 2000) i learned that in 1873 60% of the miners in california were chinese. also that the gold found in the modern rivers was washed out of a 50 million year old river system that ran on a north-south axis and is now located mostly on the ridge tops. hence hydraulic mining to recover the gold still on the ridges. mmmmmm geology.

from the county website

"By 1867, the total length of ditches in the county had reached 850 miles at a cost of construction of $4,250,000. The two leading systems were the Eureka Lake and Yuba Canal Company and the South Yuba Canal Company. By 1880 there were more than 1000 miles of ditches, and construction costs had reached $7,000,000. It was the elaborate ditch systems that made hydraulic mining possible. This form of mining dominated all other methods of obtaining gold until it was stopped by court order in 1884. Today that network of ditches have been absorbed by the Nevada Irrigation District, with some of the old ditches still in use."

see what i mean about fascinating. i need to spend some time in the library and local bookstores. meanwhile we continue exploring the actual local area. we walked on the banner/cascade trail along a canal that supplies water to two treatment plants which produce potable water for grass valley and nevada (snow covered!) city.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Where The Sun Don't Shine

I have finally come to the conclusion that Roger and I are hopelessly and irrevocably insane. Why else would we consider making an offer on a house that we have rejected at least six times in the past five months? On the other hand, we've gone back to look at this place six times in five months, so something keeps calling us back. Oh right, isn't that some twisted definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome?
We have this thing about light and southern exposure. We especially think about it now, in our rental in the dark woods (see above photo ). We think a house should be built with an architectural consideration of the four directions and the four seasons. We have driven our real estate agents crazy with this obsession. We say, "The house really doesn't matter. It's all about the land." They show us houses that really don't matter, but we still reject them one by one. Oh, we tell them, orientation does matter. It may not in sexual preferences, but it sure as heck does when the winter light is only something to be seen in the sun-drenched meadows across the canyon or street. We don't want to be staring longingly out some window at mesmerizing golden light, while shivering in a moody dark room. We talked to an architect the other day. He agreed that most houses are simply not built with any notion of the sun. The underlying assumption is that it's oriented correctly if the front door faces the street. What ever direction that might be.

So, why do we keep going back to this house? Because the 10 acres of land it's on provide a great buffer to the rest of the crazy world. It's completely livable with plenty of space and big windows. There is a fantastic and huge garden space that has already been used to do organic biodynamic gardening. It has two 1500 gallon cement holding tanks underground for water. But there are issues: The main part of the house is an older manufactured home. The stick built addition cuts out all sunlight to that part of the house. The trees that block much of the morning winter sunlight are on the neighbor's property.
I added a compass to the roof of the house to give you an idea of where things are happening, and labeled each section. But we keep coming back here to check the light. We go in the morning. We go later in the day. We've gone in summer. We've gone back in fall. We've walked around and listened to the birds in the trees. We've had toast there (oh yes, we brought tea and toast one morning) while sitting on the back steps. It is utterly serene and peaceful.

So we finally finally finally decided to make an offer. Guess what? Someone else had the same idea, a day before we did. We'll keep you posted.

Roger sez:

we have looked at a lot of houses and properties. some with our agent, many more just doing a drive-by on our own. nothing on the market now intrigues us anything like this place does. it is in an area of high end houses, not that that is important to us in itself, but in the real world it means that roads are plowed in the winter, and electricity and phone are fixed rapidly if interrupted. it is fairly close to town. it is ten acres, mostly of forest, to insulate us from (ugh) other people. we like neighbors and count ourselves to be good neighbors. we don't want fences to be the separation that works, we want trees and distance.