Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Last Day of March

We usually end the month with many of the photos that haven't made it on to the blog, but not this month. I looked through my iPhotos and there were so few photos after we came home from visiting my ailing mother in southern California. I found this one and thought it captured the tranquility of a spring day. This photo was taken on March 17th.  Not many have been taken since then.

My mom's MRI was not good. She has a liver biopsy scheduled next week and an appointment with an oncologist on Thursday. I think that conveys the direction this is going. Roger and I are planning a trip down in mid April. My older brother is flying in from Virginia on April 9th. These are the times that make the crazy wide spread out long distance of our families the most challenging. Shouldn't we all at least be neighbors with the ones we most love? Ah these times we are living in. My mother is an incredibly strong woman, so this news comes as a wild surprise after her sudden illness in late February. There will be more tests and more news. The one thing we know for certain is that if deep heart-felt love could save and prolong life, then my mother has so much to look forward to.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Photoshopping An Afternoon Away

I started thinking the other day about what it might be like to write a children's book. I thought it would be such a wonderful thing to show kids what they might see when they look up into the sky.

But then I thought, photos may not be the right thing for a children's book. The pics need to be colorful and slightly more cartoonish. That made me start playing around with Photoshop and using some of their incredibly interesting filters.
Here are two photos I played with. The double rainbow photo filter is Palette and the halo filter is Ocean Ripple. Could these filters change the photos enough to make them look interesting to a child? What do you think?

Here's a bit of a follow-up on my mom. I've been very distracted and worried about her because she is still not feeling well. She spent last weekend in the hospital. My sister has been at her side for hours and hours and hours. My twin brother is driving down to see her. Roger and I will probably make a return trip next week. Please send your good thoughts and best wishes to her. Thank you. (Click on the above pic, I photoshopped that one too.)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Before And After

There is a big old cypress tree on the street side of the family beach house in Capitola. It's been there for as long as Roger can remember. I wish I had photos from 1938 when Roger's grandparents bought the house. I bet the tree could be seen then too. I would love to know what it looked like 77 years ago. This is what it looked like last week.

It covers this side of the house almost entirely. Many four-legged critters have found their way into this tree. Over the years we've seen raccoons, opossums, and squirrels. It was thick enough to offer lots of possibilities for cover.

The tree has been trimmed over the years, but it had been quite some time since the last trimming. So when we were there last week, we had a tree trimmer come out and take a look. He saw something that we had somehow overlooked. One of the very big branches was resting heavily on the roof. Uh-oh. It absolutely had to be cut.

I took a close-up to really get an idea of how big that branch is.
That's a mighty big branch. So, we arranged to have the tree trimmed on Monday and have photos sent to us of what it looks like now. It is mind-blowing.
What a crazy difference. The trimmer had to cut a second large branch to keep the tree balanced.

Well, we hope this change will be as good for the tree as it is for the roof.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Rainbow Reflections and Skypools

I always run outside to photograph rainbows. No matter how many times I see them, I never tire of their arching beauty. Double rainbows are a wonderful sight. Sometimes, when I'm really lucky, I can get a shot of their entire expanse across a piece of our sky. This double was really faint in full view.

But the closeup of its pot-of-gold end really showed the primary and secondary bows well. That's when I noticed something else, or at least I thought I did. It looked like a faint reflection next to the primary bow and an even fainter one next to the secondary. Was I really seeing that? I posted the pic on Facebook and friends said they saw two, three, or four bows. I also sent the photo to Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics and asked him what he thought.
Here's what he wrote: Yes, you have a reflection bow - actually two of them.   Here is an enhancement that accentuates colour gradients - with the disadvantage that it removes the beauty:
That was such a lovely surprise. This is why I run out to photograph rainbows whenever they're visible. Seriously, I never know what else I might be seeing.

Like this, when Roger and I were in Capitola the other day, we went for a walk out to the end of the wharf, as we always do. We were looking over the railing into the water to see what birds or mammals were out there. This is what we saw instead. (Click on the pic.)

We've looked over this railing many, many times. Neither of us remembered seeing the water look quite like this. So I photographed it and went to Atmospheric Optics to look around for answers.  I searched on sky reflections and found one of Les Cowley's posts about Skypools. It was so informative and enlightening. I hope you'll follow the link and take a look. If you don't, here's a bit of what he writes about this:
Skypools are strangely complex. They show sky and land colours but not sky or landscape pictures. They are instead ovals of alternating colour. Some ovals are mostly landscape hues, others are of the sky.

The complexity arises from the shape of the water surface. Ordinary mirrors are flat, convex or concave. They produce simple and single images. They have a fixed curvature.

In contrast, wavy water even at a single 'frozen' instant changes in its curvature from point to point along its surface. Its troughs are certainly concave at their deepest but the curvature decreases towards the crests passing through an inflection point and then becoming convex.  And that is only in one dimension, the curvature alters differently in others.
This is what happens when we look out our windows or go for a walk, and take a good long look around. It's an ever-changing world of beauty with crazy complex optics!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Letters To My Father

It's been twenty-three years since I first started writing in a journal chronicling my father's struggle with cancer and his death, which came on March 14, 1992. It was an early Saturday morning at 2:30 am when my older brother called from my father's hospital room to say he had died. Oh, the million tears we all cried were never quite enough, there was always more when we thought of his last days. He was young, only 73 years old. It's hard to imagine that on Roger's next birthday, he'll be that age. My father seemed very old to me back then.

I started dreaming about my father soon after he died. They were stunningly vivid dreams, so palpable and real. I felt his touch and heard his voice like he was there with me and more than just my synapses firing in the night.

I wrote all the dreams down in the journal. The page always began, "Dear Dad..." I started to tell him stories of the family, what was happening in our lives. I told him of politics and wars. I told him of other family members who joined him there in world of the dead. I wrote down poems I found that helped me grieve.

Someone told me once that I probably shouldn't keep such a journal, because I would punish myself if I decided to stop writing in it. But I couldn't stop. My love for my father is still a part of my life, and writing him notes has been a wonderful ongoing story. Now, my family calls me to ask me to check the journals to see if I had written down something important that needed to be remembered, and when it happened. I always find it. I'm now well into my fourth journal.

Tonight my family will light a yahrzeit candle at sundown. It will burn all night and all day tomorrow. We will remember my father with a light and love that lasts forever. I will write him a note in the journal, it will begin, "Dear Dad..."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Driving North

PS-- My mom is feeling much stronger, and her spirits were high when we started the journey home. Thank you for your good thoughts and wishes.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Hello From Sunny Southern California

We drove the second half of the journey south on Wednesday. It was a beautiful, clear sunshiny day. It's a 350 mile journey with nice long stretches of it along the Pacific Ocean. We could see for miles and miles out to sea. There is something about that ocean being right there as we barrel down the road that brings calm comfort and a blue beauty of peace.

My mom was still not feeling very well when we arrived, but has really gotten stronger and better in the two days we've been here. We're not sure what was going on. She suffered for almost two weeks, but it all seems to be resolving, and for that we are grateful.

We plan to stay a few more days and make sure she is stable and really well. It's been crazy being camped here in the living room of her one bedroom apartment (at the assisted living facility). It's a bit like traveling in a sleeper car on the train. All of our stuff strewn about and narrow quarters, but love lets us do crazy things like this. Turns out we can pretty much adjust to just about anything.

The weather is warm. We walk out in short-sleeved shirts and shorts. It's like a vacation, but not.

Thank you for your kind words and wishes. My mother loves all of it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

On The Road Again

We started another 700 mile (1126 km) journey south on Sunday to see my mom. She hasn't been feeling well, and we really wanted to be with her to see how we could help. We always stop halfway at Roger's family beach house to spend the night. It's a grand trip, and Sunday's drive was probably the best we have ever taken. That's because there was NO TRAFFIC (except for the drive through the city of San Francisco, which involved hitting every traffic light red). But there was NO TRAFFIC getting into or out of the bay area, which is such an amazing thing that it needs to be repeated just for the awesome statement that it is!

One of the best upsides of having to stop at every traffic light in the city, is that we got to see something that is somewhat of a rare occurrence in the city. It was a stunningly clear day, and at one of the lights we looked west down the road and could see the Pacific Ocean. And, all the way out on the horizon, 30 miles away we could see the Farallon Islands. The first time I have ever seen them. It made stopping at the lights a truly wonderful event.

We also noticed while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge a huge cloud that looked a lot like an Incus formation south east of the city, reaching high above the city skyline. It's too difficult to photograph anything while driving over the bridge, and by the time we crossed it, the skyline was no longer in view, but the cloud still was. We saw this cloud for the 70 miles we drove south to Santa Cruz.

We saw it over the San Francisco airport.

We saw it over the radio-telescope at Stanford University. The telescope has a 150 foot diameter.

But we were utterly surprised to see it when we arrived at the beach house, which faces southeast.  It stretched out across the horizon.

We saw this formation all the way into the sunset. And then just before dark it flashed lightning from deep inside. It was quite a sight.

I told Roger, "This cloud followed us here. Can we keep it?" I'm not sure if it really was an Incus, but it was beautiful.

My mom has asked to postpone the trip a few days until she feels stronger to have us come and stay. So, we wait here on the bay for her call.