Monday, December 23, 2013

A Thousand Mile Journey

We drove round trip a thousand miles (1609 km), south to see my mom and back home again. It's quite a journey. Heading south we drove through the Salinas valley, and partly down along the coast. It's always beautiful in every season, and we have never been disappointed with the views out the window of our zooming car. This trip down was a bit different because we saw iridescent clouds and sundogs for 50 miles.
I photographed the sundog through the open window. I photographed the iridescence through the windshield, the sun hidden by the visor. I told Roger that it was a good thing I wasn't behind the wheel at this part of the journey. I'm not sure I could have kept my eyes on the road. We had a good weary highway laugh about that.
 We spent four days with my mom, who you can see from this photo is recovering incredibly well from the stroke she had on December 9th. She has already regained all the things that had been effected: speech, smile, left hand strength. Her resilience and joie de vivre is a truly wonderful thing. We were so happy to be with her and watch her confidence grow everyday. This is why we travel all those miles. Love is such good medicine.
The drive home wasn't nearly as beautiful as the drive south. We took an inland route, Highway 99. The above photo shows you the nearly palpable air we were about to enter as we approached the San Joaquin Valley. It's an interesting thing to actually see the USG (Unsafe Air for certain Groups) spread before you. That's 300 miles of (482 km) of really BAD AIR.
This is a screen shot the Air Quality Map in California. We're home now in the slightly better air of the Sierra foothills. I can't help but think it is pretty interesting what we have come to accept about our modern world.
And here is Bonsai, our very old kitty cat, sitting in the sunlight on our first day back. He was well cared for by our neighbors, and very happy to have his favorite servants home. (Thanks to Arkansas Patti for reminding me to post this photo and a Bonsai update.)

So, the utter joy of having my mom feeling well and our kitty cat surviving our journey over-rides any of my disappointment with the air we have to breathe these days.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, friends.


  1. Loved the picture of you and your Mom!!! Great news that she is recovering so well..I'm sure your visit did wonders for her also.
    That bad air is scary. One thing to know it, altogether another to see it.
    Also good that Bonsai rallied enough so you could leave him. He kept his promise.
    Wishing you, Roger and all those you care about a wonderful Holidays and a happy, healthy 2014.

  2. You certainly look like your mum. Glad she is recovering, sad to say my mother did not. Hope your over your heating problems I have mine like a leak in the roof. Were having a mother of a storm at the moment. Hop eto get up there tomorrow to sort it.
    Have a great Christmas

  3. Hugs for both of you; for your Mom and for a very lucky kitty from too far away...

    May all the love you've shared with others in this world find its way back to you during the Holidays!


  4. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas to you and Roger, as well, Robin.

  5. What better presents could there be than your mother's recovery and pleasure in your company and your cat feeling secure with his people home? Glad to have the news from both fronts. Happy holidays to you all.

  6. And don't forget that your mother is TOTALLY ROCKING those stripes! She looks great (and so do you)!

  7. Great post, Robin Andrea. It is amazing what we've come to put up with, isn't it? My favorite bugaboo is utility poles; they're so ubiquitous that we hardly notice them, yet they despoil nearly every landscape. But, enough of that for Christmas Eve; I hope you and Roger have a great holiday!

  8. Arkansas Patti-- Thank you for reminding me to post something about Bonsai. I had photographed him earlier in the day, but completely forgot. Yeah, that air was quite a sight. Hard to imagine what it is we're breathing these days. Happy holidays to you!

    Bill-- I told my mom that you think we look alike, she loved hearing that! Yes, our heat is working. Of course the record-breaking cold spell is over, and now we're in record-breaking warmth! Hope all is okay at your place now.

    alan-- Thanks for your good wishes, alan. Happy holidays and wishes for a healthy year to you.

    John-- Thank you for the good wishes. Happy holidays to you and your most favorite wife!

    Minnie-- We feel very lucky to have things work out so well. My mom's recovery is the best gift of the season, and Bonsai's grateful purring is a wonderful relief. Happy holidays to you.

    pablo-- My mom is the queen of her Assisted Living facility. Even the wait staff there love her. She rocks everything!

    Scott-- Glad you liked the post. It is amazing what we put up with. I don't mind that we're killing ourselves, but that we are destroying the habitat for everything really bugs me. But as you say, enough of that on Christmas Eve, hope you and Kali have a wonderful holiday!

  9. So glad you could see your mom, and that she's recovering so well! And glad she was able to go back home.

    Kudos and scritches to Bonsai, who is a heck of a cat.

    I grew up in LA, and the air quality there is hugely better than it was back when. That took a concerted effort. The Central Valley is far less populated, but [a] it is a valley, so geography works against cleaner air, and [b] there isn't the political will in that area of the state to clean things up. Big ag is against regulations on equipment for farms or trucking, or on the size of operations like dairy farms. (Cows can get intense, as you know.)

  10. Happy Holidays old blog friends! Peace, Michael, Trace and Bodhi Dog

  11. ve you ever seen NLC's?
    Happy Holidays!!

  12. kathy a-- It was a wonderful visit with my mom and a grand homecoming to see our healthy Bonsai. Yes, we are lucky! When my family first moved to California from NJ in 1970, my eyes teared all the time from the smog. I had never experienced anything like it. Much has been done to clean the air since then, but the central valley is such a mind-blowing mess. Amazing what air looks like there.

    karmanot-- Happy holidays to you, old blogging buddies. So good to hear from you.

    jivas-- The link doesn't work. What are NLCs? Nocticulent clouds? That's all I can come up with. Please tell me more. Happy holidays to you!

  13. Your mother is beautiful, Robin! I love her smile--it shows her wonderful spirit. I am glad you were able to drive down and spend time with her. I am not familiar with California geography: When you move to where you hope to move, will you be closer to her? I hope you are.
    And yay for Bonsai feeling better. The end of life with elderly animals tends to entail quite a few ups and downs. Not easy.
    Women are more affected by particulate pollution; if men were as affected, perhaps our politicians would be galvanized to take action.
    Re: the celestial show as you drove down, I bet you were one of very, very few people to even notice that beauty. I keep saying this, but it keeps being true: You live in a magical place. Best wishes for a wonderful, warm holiday filled with love and laughter.

  14. I agree with Minnie, what a great Christmas present for your mother to be doing so well.

  15. Gorgeous cat. You and your mom look so much alike. Great photo of two lovely ladies. We will be heading south into CA the day after Christmas and hope the weather will cooperate ;)

  16. Lovely update. Happy holidays with much love and aloha, road warriors!

  17. CCorax-- I love that you see my mother's beauty. She really is quite a remarkable woman and role model. I did not that when I was a teenager, but I absolutely know that now. Sadly, where we would like to move is actually about 200 miles farther away. Not something I'm comfortable with yet. Interestingly, most people hardly every look up during the day to see the show the sky is putting on. It's so often an amazing thing to see.

    Mark-- We think the same thing. A truly wonderful thing that my mom has recovered so well so quickly. We are thankful.

    Rain-- I do look a lot like my mother, and we both look a lot like her mom. Hope you have a safe journey. The weather has been unseasonably warm and lovely.

    Annie-- Happy holidays to you too. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  18. How wonderful that your mother is recovering so nicely. And how considerate of Bonsai to be waiting for you to return. Happy holidays to all of you.

  19. Really glad to hear it all went well - at both ends of the trip. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to Robin and your Mom, Roger, and Bonsai.

  20. All look glowing in your photos, including Bonsai! Wonderful that you get more time with yiur beloved ones.
    Wishing you a great new year.

  21. NCMountainwoman-- Thank you for your good wishes. Happy holiday to you as well.

    Wayne-- Happy holidays to you and Glenn, and your wonderful furry menagerie as well.

    isabelita-- It was a good trip, and we're glad that my mom is doing well and so is Bonsai. Wishing you a happy new year too!

  22. Wonderful double portrait! Good to see how resilient your mother is. Bonsai, too.

    I'm almost finished reading a fine book about Lummi carver, Joseph Hillaire:

    His artistic signature was sun dogs. Look where it reads "page 40" for his symbol for the setting sun and sun dogs. A kindred spirit to you.

  23. am-- Thank you for the link, and your kind words about my mom, bonsai, and me.

  24. Happy New Year you two. Can't tell you how many gloomy days you have lifted with your posting. peace, Michael, Trace and Bodhi Dog.