Monday, September 29, 2014

A Week Goes By

I had this plan to write two posts a week until the end of the year. Ever since I changed the format on our blog archive, and I could see the number of posts we've done per year, I was determined not to let 2014 be the fewest Dharma Bum posts ever. We ended 2005 with 360 posts; we ended last year with 76. The worst year was 2012 with only 67. Yikes. But plans went awry when I spent one entire night last week sleepless with another serious and painfully bad headache. I've been getting them once or twice a year, and I just had my second one this year. I think they may be migraines. My father had them, and my sister has been suffering with them since she was a teenager. I am beginning to notice the early signs of onset. One is a heightened sensitivity to sound, and the other a discomfort with too much light. Then, POW, a headache hits that won't let me sleep for an entire night. Most over-the-counter pain meds don't really do much for migraines. And to be perfectly honest, I don't like to take medication. I have been taking one 325 mg of acetaminophen daily just to cut down the ongoing pain from the degenerative arthritis in my neck. That's it. Pain is a pretty terrible thing. So, my plan to do a second post last week slipped away. 

Fortunately, though, really grand things happened on the day after the headache. We had 2 1/2 inches of rain (that's 6.35 cm). It rained all day, a good steady downpour. It was wonderful, certainly not drought ending, but enough to assist the thousands of firefighters fighting several huge blazes in the state.

While it is unlikely the rains will continue. The day of rain helped to quell a bit of the fear and quench a bit of the earth, if just for a day.

So, all of northern California was pretty ecstatic by this record rainfall. Of course, I loved the skies. All those clouds and the intermittent sunlight produced opportunities for iridescence and rainbows, and just plain ol' beautiful sunsets.

Life is good when the headaches have gone, the rains come, and fall is in the air.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Trying To Photograph The Sky

The new camera takes beautiful zoomed-in closeups of faraway creatures, but learning how to photograph the sky has been a bit challenging. There have been a few opportunities of splendid sky-scapes, and I've been out there pressing this and that to get the pics to look like the actual subject. Not sure I've accomplished my goal, but this is what we've seen.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

in grass valley we walked in the woods. there were a few places where we could see some expanse of sky but mostly we were in the trees.

 this is about 5 minutes away from our house in arcata. open fields on both side of the road.

now we are almost around the open fields.

we live 2 block down this street.

our neighborhood. 2 blocks from home.

half a block from home. turn right at the corner. and there's chloe come say hello and get her pets. she lives in the house at left. she waits on the corner for visitors. everyone in the neighbor knows her.

here is a map of our walk. total 1.69 miles. this is our regular after dinner walk.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dorian The Bird Biker

A few weeks ago Roger and I had a lovely chance encounter with a young man who is walking across the country, and whose travels found him on our street. I did a post about it, and mentioned that we had asked Stephen if he had a place to stay for the night, which he did. In the comments on that post, fellow blogger Scott wrote this:

"Here's something you might want to consider (just a thought). A fellow named Dorian Anderson is doing a Big Year (of birding) by bicycling from the East Coast to the West Coast and back. In the process, he's raising money for bird conservation by taking online donations. Dorian is posting about his adventure on a blog called Biking for Birds (, and I've been following his exploits since the spring. He often lodges with generous, interesting people along his route to save money, and he's headed your way. Currently, he's in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and is biking down the coast, with the intention of stopping in Arcata. If you'd be interested in hosting him for a night, he'd appreciate it (unless he has already made other arrangements in the area). You can contact Dorian at if you're interested. Disclaimer: If he turns out to be a serial killer, I absolve myself of any liability!"

Roger and I had a good laugh about the "serial killer" part. We talked about inviting him and agreed we should do it. So, I emailed Dorian and offered him a night in our little house while he is birding in Arcata. A few days went by, and then he responded. Yes. He would like to come and spend the night here. So, he did. He arrived Saturday, September 13.

Dorian is a very serious birder in a way that Roger and I are not. We love looking at birds, photographing them in their natural habitat. We rejoice in finding new birds and being able to identify them. But we've never kept a life list. We've never gone out of our way to see a bird. If we cross paths with a species we've never seen before, we are absolutely thrilled. We let chance be our guide. A truly serious birder gets up at dawn and is out of the house on the search for a Red-breasted Sapsucker, before Roger and I have even had our morning tea and toast. Dorian is a serious birder. He has traveled thousands and thousands of miles on a bicycle in pursuit of species he's never seen before. His photography is gorgeous and his passion is incredible fuel for his adventure. Check out his blog Biking for Birds.

We had a lovely dinner and a wonderful conversation. We're glad we took a chance and let a stranger with a dream spend the night with us. Thanks for the suggestion, Scott! We survived!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blake Saw A World in A Grain of Sand

How about galaxies in some sea foam? Click for the stars!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Just A Chatty Post

Not having a fully functional camera has limited the posting here on the blog. I did photograph with the iPhone an interesting optic that displayed itself on the stove while we were visiting the kids. Their kitchen was full of rainbows that bounced off the walls and ceiling through prisms hanging in their windows. But later in the early evening, they called my attention to this fabulous little what? I don't know, a beautiful stovetop corona cast by the low sun shining through the backdoor peephole straight on to the stove. Is that possible? I don't know but there it was. Interesting what sunlight and glass can do. It was our own private show, just the sun shining perfectly at just the right angle.

We've been walking three miles a day. It's great to get out there everyday and walk the neighborhood streets. We have become good friends with the cats and dogs all around town. Lots of them roll over when they see us coming. They know we're good for a few minutes of sweet talking, and petting their furry bellies. There should be a photo or two here of Chloe the ancient golden lab, or Bella the skinny little black and white kitty that jumps off the porch and runs to us every time.

We've gone to look at a few houses that are for sale here. We do laugh a lot about the housing inventory. It's some of the worst stuff we have ever seen. Houses built in the 1940s and 50s, single pane windows, no insulation, and never upgraded. Oh that kitchen formica, pink with gold triangles! It's like a walk back in time to a really bad era of crappy construction and bad ideas. We did see one house that was on the side of town we want to live, with a view of the bay, facing south. Oh wow, we were hopeful until we walked in. The best we could have done was just bull-doze the place and start over. Not sure we want to do that, at least not yet. We'll wait a little longer and see what else comes on the market.

We did go to the closest big-box store and actually get our hands on a few cameras. I was most interested in the Lumix FZ70 and the Canon SX50. They were both there and comparably priced. We played with the zoom; we got a sense of how they felt in our hands with the viewfinder close to our eyes. We liked them both. So, I googled around for comparisons of the cameras and read some interesting stuff that was way over my head with details. The bottom line was that they were both fine and good and equally capable of capturing what I hoped to be seeing. I started leaning toward buying the Canon just because I've had two Lumix cameras and thought it might be time for a change. Then my brother alerted me to where I could get the Lumix for almost half the price of the big box store price. Well, that tipped the scales for me. The camera is due to arrive on Wednesday and it comes with a 16gb memory card and carrying case. We're pretty excited about it. A 60X optical zoom seems crazy, but I'm looking forward to giving it a try. We'll probably look so closely at the herons and egrets, we'll see their feathery dreams!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

What We've Been Seeing

Here are a few of the sights from the past week or so. Still working with a broken camera that seems to be deteriorating beyond its broken on/off switch.
Three Avocets

Cedar Waxwing

Lenticular Formation

Lots of birds on the tower

Foggy Morning an hour past sunrise

Giant Fire in Happy Camp sending smoke west to the coast

That smoke in the skies here an hour before sunset