Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Birds Were Out Hunting

The weather has been bleak. Seriously bleak, gray, foggy, windy and cool for most of the month. Not much inspiration for getting out there with the camera. We do try to walk everyday, but we have missed a few because of the relentless wind. Friday was gray, but wonderfully calm, the perfect invitation for a neighborhood walk.

We often see hawks perched on the poles along this road by the cow pastures. We spotted this one just as it was taking off.

I thought it had flown away because of our presence.  But it landed at the field edge right across the road and kept an intent and hungry eye on something. A crow dive-bombed it, and they both took off.

The hawk circled around a bit and then flew to a different pole and waited. We kept walking and never did see it catch anything.

But just a minute or two later we did see this egret in the same field.
Not sure what it had caught, but it ate it very very quickly. Sure hope the hawk found something too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Kinetic Sculpture Race

Over Memorial Day Weekend there is a 42-mile kinetic sculpture race that begins in Arcata and heads south through Eureka to Ferndale over three days. Wikipedia describes it this way:
Kinetic sculpture races are organized contests of human-powered amphibious all-terrain works of art. The original cross country event, the World Championship Great Arcata To Ferndale Cross Country Kinetic Sculpture Race,[1] now known as the Kinetic Grand Championship in Humboldt County, California, is also called the "Triathlon of the Art World" because art and engineering are combined with physical endurance during a three day cross country race that includes sand, mud, pavement, a bay crossing, a river crossing and major hills.[2][3]
I think that sums it up incredibly well. I had never experienced this "triathalon of the art world" and had my first taste on Saturday and was quite blown away by it. It is truly stunning and inspiring. On Saturday we walked around the downtown plaza, clicking photos of the sculptures as they waited for the race to begin. Later we walked to a quiet little corner away from the huge crowd of fans and found a spot where the human-powered works of art pedaled by. On Sunday we went to the boat launch in Eureka and watched. Here's a pairing of some of the land art we saw with their watery second day beginning.

These sculptures were all impressive and beautiful, but it was the blue whale that completely knocked me out. Look at the size of this aesthetically engineered piece of art. Truly awesome and awe-inspiring.

Roger saw his first kinetic sculpture race back in 1972 and has loved it ever since. Now I know why. I can't wait until next year. I think we may have been inspired enough to volunteer. This is human creativity, invention, artistry, and power at its goofiest best!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Looking Through A Box Of Old Photos

Roger and I have been in Arcata for almost year. We rented a small house thinking we would find a home to buy within a few short months of our arrival. We didn't unpack most of our boxes and none of our art. Everything is still neatly taped up in large cardboard containers in the garage. One of the very few boxes I did bring in from the garage was full of old photos. I had planned to look through this particular box for quite some time, but never got around to it.

Lately the weather has been blustery, cool, and endlessly gray. Not good for atmospheric optics, birdwatching at the marsh, or even walks around the neighborhood. So, I started to make use of the time by going through the old photos, scanning them and sending the .jpgs to the family. It has been a delightful divergence from the doldrums.
There was one photo of my mother's aunt, uncle, and cousins that had a lot of writing on the back. It was in old German handwriting. No one in my family could translate it at all. I started thinking about how to find someone who could figure out what was written here.
That's when I remembered the blog  Interim arrangements that I have been reading written by a woman named Sabine who lives in Germany. So, I left a comment on one of her posts and asked her if it would be okay to send her this photo of the writing, if she would be willing to translate it. Sabine emailed and said yes. My family and I were thrilled. The thought of knowing what these words said more than 90 years after they were written was so exciting.

A day later we received a note from Sabine telling us what was written here. She did more than translate the words, she also told us a bit of the history of where my mother's relatives were vacationing at the time this photo was taken. Here is what the card said:

My dears! Sending you from here the most heartfelt wishes, Maly & Dorchen have already been here for 5 weeks ; I visited for 5 days with Rudi and Siegfried. Any news at your end? Here, all is as usual. Your mother and Hack as well as Max are very well! Why don’t you write? How is Adolf’s brother? Would you not think of coming here for a visit, it will cost you next to nothing, with the Dollar rate so high und would have been for nothing with the Dollar at 30 000 Marks. Now the Dollar is at 140  - 150 000 Mark. We are going to leave today, best wishes your Georg, Maly, Dorchen, Rudi and Siegfried.

Sabine wrote, "It appears the card was written by a Georg. The name Dorchen is a pet name for Dora or Dorothee. The red stamp is a postal stamp from Bad Kissingen, a spa town in northern Bavaria, not far from were I grew up. My grandparents used to go there in late summer for the water spa treatments and general gossip as well as being seen etc. You have to imagine a pretty town with showy buildings, private clinics, parks and open air concerts (small orchestras, tenors, the works), exhibitions, tea dances and thermal springs for drinking (yuk) and/or bathing. I believe it was quite the place to be in the 19th and early 20th century. Very posh."

We would have never known the details of any of this, not a word. This photo was probably taken in the early 1920s. My grandparents left Germany in 1921, and the photo was taken after that. Sabine's translation and insights really helped us understand the context.

Some time after my mother's family received this photo, the eldest son, Rudi came to America. Then, the younger son Siegfried followed and so did Maly (my grandmother's sister). Georg never came to the US and died in Germany. Dorshen managed to escape from Germany at a very difficult time for Jewish citizens. I met Maly, Rudi, and Siegfried, but not Dorshen (who died at the age of 40 in 1948). I googled around to see what became of the family and was blown away to learn that Rudi lived until he was 99 years old and died in New Jersey in 2005.

Is it not amazing what the internet can tell us these days? The best part of gray, blustery days is the piecing together of small bits of family history. Thanks to the incredible kindness of fellow blogger Sabine. The internet told me that this is how to say it in German: Meine Familie dankt Ihnen! Sure hope that's true.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

pass it on

we drove up the coast from santa cruz to san francisco on our way home to arcata. it has been several years since we took that route. the trip reminded me of many interesting times on the coast when i was much younger. i went there a lot in high school. beach parties and fishing. swimming at pillar point, where that maverick’s surf contest is held now.

the beach north of pillar point. nice tidepools at low tide

i told robin about an interesting incident when i was beyond school but still… well, i’ll tell the story and you can add your adverb or adjective after “still”.

i bought a 1952 mgtd in london in 1971 and shipped it to california. right hand drive. crash box. no synchromesh. tricky to shift. fold down windshield. i loved it. back in california, living temporarily at our family house in capitola, i connected with an old friend in sausalito. he told me that he had a nice pound of weed. i had met a fine fellow in capitola who made a sketchy living strolling on the beach in santa cruz mumbling “lids, acid.” he said he could sell anything i got. so off i went in my sporty car with british plates.
not my car. but just like it.

it was a beautiful ride up the coast, over the bridge, and into sausalito. met my friend. scored my weed and headed back. right by big tree lumber, 18 miles from santa cruz, i ran out of gas. fortunately for me there was a place to pull over safely.

the wide spot

i had taken about three steps walking south to find gas when a car whizzed by going north. it stopped quickly, spun around and parked right by me. fellow jumps out and asks if i need gas. i answer yes. he opens his trunk and takes out a gallon can of gas. as i thank him and tell him i’ll pour it right in he says “keep it. pass it on,” spins around and continues north.

i arrived safely and kept the empty can for a while. i failed to pass it on.

robin’s response was “let’s get a gas can to carry. you can pay it forward."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Decades Full of Dreams Redux

I first wrote this post ten years ago on August 20, 2005. It was in the early days of our blogging, when I was using the blogging pseudonym Rexroth's Daughter. We were also using Haloscan for our comments back then, which were all exported to us in a mostly unusable format in 2009 and then unceremoniously deleted forever. It's hard to imagine that an entire decade has passed since I wrote this post. So, I think it must be time for an update. One more photo, one more haiku. It is my birthday today May 13th. I am now seven years from seventy. Next update in 2025!

PS-- I updated the comments at the end with 58 of the comments I could find from my old Haloscan files. There are eight comments from me with the text of those older comments. It's lovely to re-read them and remember some of the folks from the early days of blogging.

I thought a long time about posting this series of photos and haikus. I put this together over a month ago, then the mood to post it passed. I was growing tired of being Rexroth's Daughter, and wanted to introduce myself as I am. My name is Robin, but I am not sure it really matters.
I am one of four kids. The earliest photos only show the youngest three. My older brother is 3 1/2 years older, so he didn't hang around with us when we were little and too boring to be his friends. Later, when we were all in our teens, we started to smoke pot together and those were the days that cemented our familial connections. Even now when we laugh, we can all flash back to the same moment. The four of us living together was like life on a very wild commune. Our parents thought we were mad. We were.
I think the photo that may require the most explanation is the one of me when I was 14. Behind me is a table full of relatives. My parents had thrown a party for my uncle's in-laws who had flown to New Jersey from California. Everyone is sitting in chairs, except for me. I am striking a very odd pose, and I know that I was influenced by the news of the times, the era, The Beatles (Relax your mind and float down stream). Shortly after that photo was taken, I parted my hair down the middle, grew it down to my waist, ironed it straight, painted flowers on my legs, and plastered peace signs on everything. Those were the 60s. Later, when I was building a cabin in southern Oregon in 1974, my parents came up to hammer in a few nails with us. That's my father in the picture. And that photo of the smiling group of long-haired folks in 1975 is of my siblings and me.
This is my life as I remember it.

1953 1 year old
boy girl twins emerge
each a lonely half of two
connected always

1959 7 years old
this trio of love
grounds my sense of place on earth

1966 14 years old
buddhist monk headlines
tells of self-immolation
sacrifice for peace

1971 19 years old
lover looks at me
sees beauty where I did not
shy heart awakens

1974 22 years old
back to land movement
buy ten acres, build cabin
bake pies, coleman stove

1975 23 years old
heart's excavation
finds deep in cells, blood, and bone
our shared history

1985 33 years old
lose love and falter
seek solace, find Darwin and
fossil ecstacy

1995 43 years old
love comes thundering
two broken hearts try again
perfect confluence

2005 53 years old
crone's age upon me
hope to be fearless at death
so, wink at future
2015 63 years old
 ten years older now
and not the least bit wiser
dancing in the trees

Monday, May 11, 2015

An Unforgettable Love

When my mom moved into the assisted living facility, we became aware of Roland. He sits at the same corner table at dinner with his daughter. He is mostly deaf and mostly blind. He doesn't talk much to anyone but his daughter, and that's to convey his likes or dislikes about the food on his plate. He is wheeled into the dining room in his wheelchair and helped on to the upholstered booth bench. After he has eaten, he's wheeled out. That's how it looked to us the first two years my mom was there.

We always talk to his daughter when we are visiting. She is incredibly kind to my mother, calls her everyday to say when she and Roland are rolling into the restaurant. My mom started eating with them most nights this past year, when her dinner mate moved to a different facility. We're always very glad for Linda's presence. She is a wonderful caregiver and a role model of loving daughter.
Last year when Roger and I moved to Humboldt County, Linda told the news to her dad. He loved knowing that we were here on the north coast of California. It made him want to come over and tell us some stories on the way out of the restaurant.  Turns out this area was one of his favorite places to take the family camping when everyone was much younger. He wanted to tell us about his favorite camp sites and where he hiked and what he photographed.
Oh yes, Roland loved to take photos of the north coast years and years ago. He wanted us to come to his room and see his beloved photos. He wanted to tell us how to hike to a particular spot in southern Oregon where a certain view of the ocean had a certain branch that he loved. This quiet man was absolutely animated by this love.
When we were visiting this last time, we did go to Roland's room to see his photos. Everywhere there were beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, those stunning vistas from mountainous overlooks. He was so happy we were looking at these photos. We were so happy to finally see them.

He told us, "I want to write an article someday about Homo Sapiens." We said, "You do? Why?" He replied, "Because I think we're going to go the way of dinosaurs and the Dodo bird." Oh wow, we totally agreed. We wanted him to tell us why he thought this, but he was tired and getting ready for bed.
We never did get to ask him about the article he wants to write. His lovely daughter scanned copies and printed these photos and gave them to us (which I scanned again to put in this post). We were so utterly grateful. He let us take his picture on his way out of the restaurant, but he was quiet again. We left town the next day and headed north to his beloved redwood coast. We said hello to the mountains and ocean for you, Roland. They remember you too!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Three Weeks On The Road

Three weeks is a long, long time to be on the road. We are definitely road-weary and glad to be back in our little adopted town of Arcata. We arrived home on Saturday. Many miles, many faces, many meals cooked in a small one-electric burner kitchen or on a two-burner camp stove, many nights spent on a 4" inch foam sleeping pad-- a huge flip to the usual quiet routine we call life.

So here we are and without much to show for all those days and nights away from home. Except for this: A lovely visit with my mom who is recovering well.
A few spouting gray whales, probably a momma and her calf heading north.
A sundog out over the Monterey Bay.
A few amazingly hard to photograph crepuscular rays on two otherwise dark and cloudy mornings.

We saw old friends. We laughed and reminisced. No photographs, just good memories.

I am working on a post about one of the people we have come to know at the assisted living facility where my mom lives. I hope to hear from his daughter, so I can somewhat fill in a bit of the spaces in his 94 years of life.

We thank you for stopping by and keeping us company on our long journey.