Saturday, January 31, 2015

End of January Photos

Just thought we'd post some of the photos that didn't make it onto the blog yet this month. We like ending the month this way.

We can't wait to see what February will show us!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Redwoods and River Mouth

We had our dear friends Tara and Steve visiting from out of town for a few days. It gave us an opportunity to explore some the local beauty here and share some of that splendor with them.
We took them to the community Redwood Forest. Not sure why we don't go there more often, although it's probably because the forest is typically dark and damp. But it's also so inspiring. It's one of the few places that makes me say the word "awesome" over and over. It's simply an unbelievably awesome place.
Here is Roger next to a stump of tree that probably lived 2000 years before it was taken down to make a fence or something. I put my hands on it and it made me think of what it might be like to hold a mastodon bone. It's different from holding a 100,000 year old fossil, which has long since turned to stone. This still feels like a living entity.
We walked on the trails finding stunning sights around every curve and turn. I love the perspective that redwood forests compel us to see. There's very few old growth redwood left here. Ninety-eight percent of the old growth forests were cut down more than a hundred years ago. These stumps can only hint at what those forests must have been like. Seriously awesome.
We took a ride up the coast just a few miles out of town to show them that beautiful roaring Pacific. It was a lovely warm day, so we could stop and take a nice look from a vista point. Ah, there it was! The mouth of the Mad River, two miles north of that informational plaque we found on the Hammond Trail, about a mile north of where we had seen it in 2008. That river mouth is really on the move.

The seals were visible upriver about 200 yards, basking in the sun and enjoying the day as much as we were.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Hammond Trail

We took a nice long walk last week on a part of the Hammond Tail that we hadn't been on before. The trail goes from Arcata north to Clam Beach. That's a 5 mile (8 km) one-way walk. We didn't go that far, but we did get far enough into the walk to get a wonderful view of the ocean.
Mad River from the bridge in Arcata
The trail begins at a bridge over the Mad River. When we got there we were surprised to see three seals swimming up river. We were pretty far from the mouth of the river at the bridge, so they had come more than a mile. I tried to photograph them, but the bridge has some high wire chain-link fencing that makes it very difficult to get a good shot. Still, it was grand to see them.
A cow we named Narcissus
We crossed the bridge and headed north. The trail goes through some beautiful cow pastures. A couple of weeks ago, when we were zooming along in our car, we passed another very large cow pasture. It had been after some big rains, and a cow was standing in a puddle casting a very lovely cow reflection. I wished I had had the camera and that there was a place to pull over. It's not often that we get to see cow reflections. So, we were pretty happy to see this cow and its reflection on our walk. We named this cow Narcissus.
Male Bufflehead
We were surprised to see this Bufflehead hanging out in the cow pasture. There were plenty of Great Egrets and even some Willets out there too. Everyone seemed to be getting along quite well on that beautiful sunny afternoon.
The roaring Pacific Ocean
We walked on until we came to Hiller Park in McKinleyville. There we took a few trails and came to an overlook and saw this. We could hear those waves roaring during most of the hike. To see them crashing like this on a clear blue-sky day was more than we had even hoped for.
The explanation of the river mouth on the move
We have been hoping to hike to the mouth of the river, but as you can see from the above sign, the mouth keeps moving!

The Mad River running parallel to the Pacific
We remember years ago when we were in Arcata in 2008, hiking along the Hammond Trail and getting to see the mouth. There were many seals there, some swimming in, others lounging on the beach. We keep hoping to see that again, but it's going to take a bit more hiking around to get to the place where the mouth is visible these days. We'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

hacking apple sounds

i take my blood pressure meds at 8 am every day. three versions of mac OS X ago i recorded nurse robin giving me a gentle reminder to take my meds and i put the recording in a system folder called “sounds.” i created an “event” in mac calendar and assigned it the sound of my reminder. i was greeted each day, if my computer was open and sound was on, with a timely reminder.

drunk with success i went on to record my own announcement that i have received mail.

both these additions moved successfully to the next 2 versions of apple osx. not so when i updated to yosemite. i looked in “sounds” and my personalized messages weren’t there. i added them. they did not show up on the list of sounds when i tried to use them for calendar. mail offered the option of a custom sound so it was easy to add my own message.

i was frustrated. i consulted dr. google. i found a sort of related discussion among people unhappy with the sound for notifications on iPhones, which use iOS. it seems that notifications were restricted to the use of apple’s sound called “basso” and that could not be changed. someone in this discussion suggested recording a custom message with the name “basso,” deleting the original “basso” and replacing it with the custom version.

hmmm. that’s one of the sounds in the sounds folder on my macbook. so i did almost the same . i didn’t use “basso.” looking in the list of official sounds i chose “purr” to corrupt with my own message. so i selected “purr” in the calendar list of sounds.

the very next morning my computer played nurse robin’s cheerful reminder.

to be clear.... those videos do not appear as reminders, just the audio plays. i had to make movies so you could hear the messages. i checked into adding just audio to this post and found instructions, but the audio file had to be available somewhere online. blogger offers to upload video directly from ones own computer or to embed a youtube player. i made these movies and tried to upload them directly to this post. a video player showed up in compose mode but when i actually published the post the space for the player was blank. that's why tthe videos are on youtube. so you can hear the audio.

techie stuff.
macbook pro 13 inch, late 2011
lion osx 10.7
mountain lion OS X 10.8
maverick osx 10.9
yosemite 10.10.1

Sunday, January 18, 2015


We've been back in Arcata for a couple of days now, getting back into the flow of life after our 1400 mile (2253 km) journey. The last 100 miles heading north is a bit more challenging than all the rest. We tend to be more tired and that's when the road curves and winds around the mountains and redwood trees before opening up into the beautiful stretch of Humboldt Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The road signs keep us informed of just how far we have to go. It always takes longer than we think it will.

It was rainy and gray for the first few days after we got home. Not particularly inviting for the long walk we wanted to take.

On Sunday the sun came out and the temps warmed up. We were ready to reacquaint ourselves with the blue skies and the bright clear air of the north coast.

Everywhere we looked we saw reflections.

We wondered if the walk on this day was mirroring a bit of our reflective selves after such a journey.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

dog bites man

that dog bites they said. doesn’t like men. they were correct.

we went to have dinner with family, where a very big very lovable excitable dog lives. we have seen her many times. she waits in the fenced back yard till we are in and when is let in she sniffs us and gets pets. this time there was another dog living there. a smallish rescue dog whose behavior suggested prior abuse, likely by a man as he had already bitten two men after being rescued. that was his history. he was in the yard with the nice dog. before the dogs were let in i was advised “if he tries to bite you raise your foot.”

stupid me. i stayed there. i watched the door open. the little dog did not hesitate a millisecond before he made a beeline for me. i barely thought to raise my foot when he chomped on it. OUCH. i shook him off, kicked him away when he made at me again, and i said a lot of bad words very loudly as i ran out the front door.

a quick exam showed a small skin prick, so i thought. a closer look later revealed a sort of gash. maybe where his fang scraped my toe as i shook off his toothy grip.

i noticed a red blot on my white sock. look what was there. it was less dramatic with the excess blood cleaned off
he bit right through

everyone was upset. our host was embarrassed and apologetic. i felt bad. we hugged and left. later the rescuer/owner of the dog, who was not home at the time of the bite, called and assured me that his shots were current, apologized and promised to muzzle the dog when appropriate.

i have assured all that it is a minor injury and is healing. it was painful when it happened. i’m almost over it.

the culprit

BONUS......  earlier toe injury

Monday, January 12, 2015

Halfway Home

Here we are back in Capitola before the 350 mile journey north to Arcata. We had a wonderful visit with my mom. The hardest part of the trip is saying good-bye to her at the door, as she watches us walk down the hallway to the elevators at the assisted living facility where she lives. But we said our tearful farewells and zoomed up the highway to our midway point.
The skies looked different here on the trip north. None of that dazzling color or deep pink sea to pull us outside at sunrise. And yet, this crazy bluish bank of fog stretching across the bay had me standing in the darkness before dawn trying to get a photo. Someday maybe I'll learn how to take photos in the dark. Later in the early morning, the fog came in and hung above the bay, turning the world into a black and white photo.

It's really lovely being back here this time of the year. Tomorrow morning when we hit the road, it will be the anniversary of our very first date. Roger and I met on New Year's Eve 1988-89 and had dinner together on January 13th 26 years ago. We've written about that first date here on the blog. I'll just say we were not on our best behavior, but rather chose to be our rather blunt and candid selves. That worked out quite well!

We have a long drive ahead of us in the morning, up through San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge and 265 miles further through the wine country and behind the redwood curtain. Then, home.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

An Elephant Story

Elephants have been in the news lately, and it hasn't been good news. They are in serious decline thanks to insane notions about the powers of their tusks. I hate to even think about what's going on in the semi-wilds of the worlds. Even a headline like "Bone Wine" in China made from the few tigers left in that country, can send me into a spiraling downward sadness. When will it end? Never, I guess. But the headlines reminded my mother of a story from her childhood, and that's the story I want to tell.

Many years ago (I am not allowed to tell you how many!), my mother's father took her and her sister Ellen to the Bronx Zoo. My mother was four years old, her sister was six. They walked around and saw all the animals, but when they got to the part of the zoo where the elephants were, the area had been cordoned off. My mother started to cry because she really wanted to see the elephants. They were her favorite animal. A zookeeper came by and asked my grandfather why my mother was crying. He told the man that she really wanted to see the elephants. So the zookeeper told my mother to stop crying. He promised that he would send her her an elephant in the mail. She was elated. She was going to get an elephant.

For days after she would stand by the apartment window waiting for the mailman to arrive. Her mother asked her, "Beatty, why are you standing there be the window everyday?" She replied, "The man told me he would send me an elephant. I am waiting for it."

Of course the elephant never arrived. But the latest headlines stirred that memory and that passion for elephants. This year for the holidays my wonderful, thoughtful sister bought my mom a little present.

Her elephant finally arrived.

Of course we wonder if this will someday be all that is left of our wild beautiful animals.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

One Day Midway

We are driving south to see my mother. It's a 700 mile (1126 km) journey. So we always stop at the halfway point in Capitola at Roger's family beach house. It's been in the family since his grandparents bought it in 1938. Nowadays their great-great grandchildren come and play here. That's the grand gift of longevity.
We woke Sunday morning to this sunrise. It's always beautiful and awesome out there.
I zoomed in a bit to see what those colors really looked like.
Then later, there were some spectacular iridescent clouds. The one I really wanted got away from me, although I do have nine very out-of-focus photos with hints of very grand colors. I did get a second chance a little while late and got this one.
We were lucky enough for our very brief visit to overlap with a significant minus tide. My twin brother came to visit, and he and Roger and I went to see the fossils. We were utterly surprised to see how much sand had washed away in the latest rain storms. We hadn't seen this many tidepools and rocks in a very long time.

On Monday we drive the next 350 miles. We know this stretch of highway very well. It's like an old friend.

Friday, January 02, 2015

First Two Birds of 2015

Green-winged Teal

Northern Shoveler