Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Falling Into Winter

My computer is being sent to Ontario for Apple repair. It's been misbehaving (will not restart or start up reliably at all), and it needs some professional care. Blogging will be sparse (even worse than it is now), although Roger does have a wonderful story to tell you about the sauna heater. Maybe he'll do a post soon. Today is his last day of Round 4 chemo. He's off for a week. Woohoo, halfway done.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lately, It's All About The Sky

First things first, our power was restored Tuesday afternoon. Roger had already figured out how to power the water heater with the generator, so we had showered and were squeaky-clean happy when everything started humming on its own again. It had been a full 60 hours without electricity, but Roger's ingenuity and pure wiring genius got us through it.

So, we could finally fully enjoy the winter mountain skies after the storm, which are incredibly clear and beautiful. It's never quite as sparkling bright in the summer, when the choking heat of the Sacramento Valley and the smoggy air from the bay area drift all the way here. That's why these freezing cold mornings are the perfect time for venturing out to see Venus. Venus before sunrise on a clear morning, and Venus before sunrise cloaked in pink clouds. I swear I would brave the coldest temps to get a glimpse of this every morning of every day. I wake up singing, "Good morning, Venus..."
And then in the chilly evenings we get to see Jupiter. This is such an amazing thing for us, to stand out on our deck and see planets. PLANETS! Why is it so thrilling? Maybe it's that confirmation and reassurance that we are after all just whirling through space, and the sight of other orbiting bodies puts it all in some proper perspective. How small we are, how very, very small.
Late in the morning on Friday, when the temps warmed up to a balmy 45 F degrees (7 C), we took a much-needed walk to breathe the fresh air and survey the storm damage. Many tree limbs down from the heavy wet snow. The sky is filling up with clouds in a preview for tomorrow's expected snow storm. The sun and clouds create spectacular sundogs, reminding us of Monet's paintings. We feel ready for any kind of weather now, and lately we just can't take our eyes off the sky. It's all good.

Monday, November 22, 2010


We have been without power since Saturday night at 10:21 pm when the snowstorm knocked out some important equipment somewhere on the grid. It's one thing to not have electricity and quite another to not have heat or running water. That's the situation we found ourselves in Sunday morning. Uh-oh. We had thought about getting a generator, but it never seemed quite the right time until we found ourselves sitting in a cold dark house. So, on Sunday Roger made some calls to the local hardware stores and found that they had already sold out all of their generators. That meant a 35 mile drive to the nearest big box stores to find one.

Luckily, we found a generator there that had enough power to support (4) 120 volt connections and (1) 220, which we needed to power the well pump. We brought it home and used it right away to the heat the house from its 57 degrees and to the cool refrigerator down to its appropriate chill level. Ah modern life.

The local newspaper, which we finally got to read online Monday when our telephone (and dsl) service was mysteriously restored, after dying mid-conversation on Sunday, told us that we are one of 7000 households in Nevada County without power. We probably won't see electricity until Tuesday evening, at the earliest. Even with the generator, we still don't have hot water, but I can at least stop melting snow to wash the dishes. Progress.

I don't think there are any big lessons to be learned from this. You have to experience it to get a real sense of life without power.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: 19 Seconds of Fall

I wish I could have shown you more, but everything was blowing everywhere, and this is what it sounded like. The leaves flew up before they flew down.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Robin's Obsession

I've been doing this crazy date/sun calculation in my head lately. I watch the angle of the sun, and think, "Okay, today is November 14, the sun is there, and we still have this much sunlight in the yard. After solstice, how long will it take to get to this light again?" That's my inner voice. Here's how I proceed: I count the number of days to winter solstice (37). Then I count 37 days past solstice and arrive at January 27. I think to myself, "January 27th, that's not so bad. We'll have this much sun in the yard in January." This news makes me feel calm.

I'm obviously out of my mind that I spend so much time on this.

Then I remembered that I have this incredibly interesting little earth-sun geometry applet bookmarked on my computer. Even finding such a cool link is testimony to my obsession. Playing with the applet I learned that the angle of the sun dropped 10 degrees between October 14th and November 14th, but will only drop an additional 4.8 degrees between now and December 21st. Hah, that's not so bad, I can live with that!
The sun, the sun. When did I become so obsessed with the sun? Was it after just those few years in the pacific northwest? In deference to this new obsession, I checked the applet for the angle of the sun in Port Townsend. I discover it's already lower in the sky there now than it will be here on solstice. My stomach flip flops over such news. Still, I remember how beautiful it was there, I almost could imagine wanting to have stayed. But my body longed for light like a starving person hungers for food. I needed the sun like someone who was ... what's the word for someone was malnourished for light... is there one?

I am that person.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

some like it hot

we love a sauna. we have built three, two at the same house. well, we built one on a lower level of an outbuilding and moved it to the upper level after the creek came up six inches into the sauna.

our first sauna. that is flooding creek water down there.

the first sauna (pictured above) was lined with old growth redwood salvaged from an old house. we moved the redwood upstairs along with the heater and benches. when we decided to sell that house we replaced the redwood with pine, and packed up the redwood with our household stuff and took it to port townsend.

our sauna in port townsend. the building is about six feet by ten feet.

when we decided to leave port townsend we removed the redwood and replaced it with cedar. now we are now building our last sauna (we hope). it will be lined with our precious sweat-stained redwood that has traveled with us through three moves from port townsend even as we have given away or sold some furniture and appliances.

picture a sauna here.

ready to put on the underfloor. this building is 8 feet by 12 feet. we wanted a bit more room in the sauna for wider benches and a larger anteroom.

why is this man staring at a post?

the current state of construction. that rafter is just sitting up there to give us a clue about the roof slant and overhang.

i have thoroughly enjoyed the physical labor of digging a semi-flat area, leveling pier blocks, and framing a foundation and walls. keeps my mind at rest and seems to ameliorate some of the strange head sensations due to chemo. nailing requires a goodly amount of direct attention. when the mind drifts the hammer hits a finger or thumb. sharpens one's attention. a good thing.

i have finished 3 rounds of the total 8 of chemo. a week off and i start the 4th. my only real complaint is the strange sensations in my head. like a slight pressure in the back and general fuzziness of thought. i am fortunate that so far i have none of the more debilitating side effects: no sores in my mouth, nor on my hands or feet, no diarrhea, no nausea, no hair loss.

our pal bonsai the cat is noticeably perkier than he has been for a while. more inquisitive, more demanding, more talkative. three enemas really cleaned him out, but he is still not as regular as we think he should be.

Robin sez:

PS-- When I was reading this post, I remembered that on our first date (January 13, 1989), we went out to dinner, and during dinner Roger mentioned that he loved saunas. I said, Yay! I love a good sauna, too! He said that that was great news because he had packed some towels in the car and knew of a wonderful place to go for a good sweat. So, after dinner we headed over to Kiva Retreat and took our first sauna together. It's been one of our favorite winter rituals ever since.

PPS-- Oh Bonsai boy, come here, I've got another laxative for you... Poor bound up kitty cat.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Who Would Have Ever Thought...

...we'd be so interested in the life and times of a single praying mantis? Not me. This weirdly beautiful alien-looking creature showed up in late September and took up residence in the yard. First it was on the sun-netting (you've seen that photo twice!). Then it moved on to the sunflowers. There it has stayed for more than a month.
The other praying mantises died, the one on our screen door (a six-week resident), the one on our deck chair (a four-week resident), gone. Well actually their bodies are still around, but they've been dead for more than a week. I thought that meant this brown beauty would die as well, fall to the ground in heap, and be a snack for the ants.
But it stayed around, and as long as it was still here, I checked in on it every few days. There is nothing quite like having a praying mantis turn its triangular head and stare those other-worldly eyes at you. I always say hello, it always gives me the cold shoulder. If it could talk, I know it would say, "Get out of here, you crazy human. Do I ever bug you? Ever?" I don't really get close, but it notices me anyway. Oh well, I guess that's what it gets for showing up and staying here so close to the house.

And not only didn't it die, it stayed incredibly robust and healthy. It had a good appetite, and there have been plenty of bees and ants for it to munch on. The benefit of checking in regularly yielded this video (15 seconds of a bee being eaten).
When the sunflower the mantis had been on finally turned brown and dried out, it moved on to another larger, fresher sunflower. There it met a friend. They stayed like this for several hours on Friday. Saturday morning, she was still there, but the male was gone. Did she eat him? I wish we could answer that, but we don't really know.

Now we're hoping for a fantastic brood at some point. All the websites I've checked have various opinions about praying mantis life cycles, so your guess is as good as mine when the babies will hatch out. I hope they stick around and take up residence in next year's sunflowers.

In other news: Monday is Roger's last day of chemo until November 16th! He's quite happy about that. The end of therapy is definitely a bit rougher than the beginning, but he's incredibly resilient.

Bonsai is doing very well. I won't go into the details of his daily excretions, but will say he's become very much like a normal kitty cat. On Saturday a stray dog, wandering on the other side of the fence, scared him. Bonsai ran into the house, past us at the dinner table and into the guest bedroom. I went out to see who had chased him, saw the Australian Shepherd and told it to go home. It ran. I went into the room to tell Bonnie that he was safe; he puffed up and swaggered out of that room, moving his shoulder like he was ready for a fight. Hah! We knew he was feeling better!

This post is number 1100! We thank you so much for reading us and sharing your thoughts, concerns, love, and friendship. We hope we have always reciprocated in kind.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

We Thought We'd Miss The Ocean

But we have this vast sea -blue sky to let our minds wander in
...wavering clouds that roll across the sky like a wispy tide
...and a jeweled moon that floats on the surface of the limitless universe.

Except for desiring a glimpse of a willet or dolphin, a pelican or sea lion, a sandpiper or harbor seal, we get the sea where we see it in a measureless sky.


First, Roger is only five days away from completing round three of the chemotherapy. He continues to do very well, experiencing only minimal side effects. He's working on a project that will eventually be a post here. What he accomplishes while on chemotherapy is pretty mind-blowing, I must say.

Second, Bonsai is okay. We discovered that one of the meds the vet sent him home with is what causes his incredible lethargy. He was practically unconscious this afternoon, but is now up and stumbling around. We're not going to give him that drug again.

Third, fall is stunningly beautiful here. We're still seeing dragonflies and damselflies. We saw two froggies down by the pond this morning. First two we've seen since their mass disappearance ten days ago. Where do froggies go?