Saturday, October 31, 2015

End of October Photos

Happy Halloween, friends!

Here are some photos taken in October that haven't been posted on the blog. It sure was a beautiful month.

An Asperitas cloud formation looking so much like the ocean
Greater Yellowlegs in a meadow not usually covered by the tide
An iridescent heart
Moon in the dark clouds
Marbled Godwits and Avocets at high tide rush hour
Farmers Market a week before Halloween
Super-Warty Pumpkin (10 generations of cross-breeding to look like this!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

busy enough

when we bought this house it came with a boring low maintenance garden. grass with a nicely separated area along the fences, planted with ornamental shrubs and with weed suppresion cloth and bark mulch filling in. ugh.

so we raked the mulch off to save it, tore out the cloth, and returned the mulch. the dirt that's left is quite clayey and as it's dry now, almost as hard as concrete. so we dig up small areas to plant flowers. 

we like artichokes. we see several on our walks about town. they do well here. this one's a "violet star." we bought it in eureka, but it is from monterey bay nursery. castroville is on monterey bay, so the plant has a good pedigree.
the one flower we have planted is a forget-me-not that jason and elena gave us. the two plants in pots haven't found a place yet. one is a succulent we brought from our family house in capitola. the other is a primrose that we got for our potted plant garden over a year ago.

the extent of our new garden so far. the rock bordered part is ready for flowers.

our first raised bed. spinach, chard, and chives. we planted starts about 3 weeks ago.

other busyness. i built a work bench. the open slots under the top will have drawers. what can i possibly be staring at?
already crowded.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Week Goes By

It's been a week since we posted anything here on the blog. Not sure what we were doing, but I'm sure we were up to something that involves long walks and beautiful views. I thought I'd take a look at my photos to see if I could come up with one photo for each day between last Monday and this. Here's a view of our week.

Monday's sunrise
Tuesday's tortoise named Sadie
Wednesday's stunning iridescent clouds
Thursday's wavy sky (altocumulus undulatus?) that stretched forever
Friday's White-crowned sparrow in the fall foliage
Saturday's sunset that made me want a roof tower
Sunday's sunrise before the rains came

Monday, October 19, 2015

Marsh Birds!

They're back! The marsh birds are back! We took a walk on Sunday and the ponds were full of birds. Most of them were too far away to photograph well or even identify, but their presence was enough to make us feel reassured that the effects of climate change had not driven them all from their winter home. Some enjoyed floating around in the duckweed, while others preferred the open blue water. They were everywhere!

We walked around enjoying all the geese flying overhead, and were dazzled by two Snowy Egrets flying close enough for us to get a look at their striking yellow feet. It was a wonderful bird-filled day. We were happily heading back to the car when a very nice man stopped us and asked, "Have you see the Bittern?" We answered that we hadn't, but wouldn't really know for sure, since we had never seen one before. He pulled out his iPhone, hit his iBird app, and showed us what the American Bittern looks like. He said, "Go over to that tree and look into that pond toward the back. It likes to hide." So we thanked him and thanked him again, and headed over to the tree.
Ah yes, there it was. Pretty far away, but still visible. I tried to zoom in as much as I could with the 60X optical zoom, and this is the best I could do. It is a very shy bird. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website says of the American Bittern, "A stocky and well-camouflaged heron of dense reed beds, the American Bittern is difficult to see. Its far-carrying booming call is distinctive, but the bittern itself likes to keep under cover." Yes, that is absolutely true.

We are so jazzed to have the marsh birds back, and this lovely creature really made it an especially fantastic visit to the marsh.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Last Thursday the sky went crazy. It started out beautiful before sunrise with wind-blown cirrus in a blue sky and wavy streaks of light at the horizon. Lovely.
The sun hadn't come up yet above the mountains, but the hints were there. I zoomed in to get a better look at that wavy light.
I had run outside early to see if I could catch a glimpse of the moon, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter. Yes, they were there, floating in and out of the cirrus above the rising sun. Oh what a beautiful morning it was.

But all day long the sky kept changing, making a cloud lover like me run for the camera every five minutes. But then around 4:00 in the afternoon the sun and clouds met and created some of the most beautiful iridescent clouds I had seen a long while. Here is a screen grab from the downloaded photos straight from the camera.
I added the above screen grab, hoping you'll click on it and see what the sky looked like. Except, of course, the sky didn't look like that exactly. The blue is off a bit. It was both a lighter, but deeper blue. The iridescent colors were stunningly vivid, and yet the camera only picked up somewhat softer hints of it. Or maybe my eyes see things differently from the way a camera set to "auto everything" does. I don't know.

So I picked a few photos and tried to see if I could photoshop them to look the way my eyes saw the sky.

Yes, this what I saw.
I ran to the front of the house to see if I could get a different perspective, hide the sun behind the roof peak rather than behind the big cypress in the yard. Oh wow. The clouds had already changed a bit.
These colors were beautiful, but in a laconusus formation they were crazy wavy and curlicue wild.
I plan to send some of these to the Cloud Appreciation Society. I'm hoping they'll like the iridescent lacunosus. I know I have never seen anything like it. I just love when the sky goes a little crazy like this. These last four photos are seven minutes of sky and memorable for a lifetime.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

A Change In The Seasons...



...and all that goes with it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Not Exactly A Vacation

Shadow of clouds on the dry California hills
Roger and I just spent two weeks on the road. We drove 350 miles (563 km) south to the family beach house in Capitola on September 20th expecting to be joined by my mother, sister, and nieces and nephews to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday on September 25. That did not happen. My sister ended up in the hospital for most of that week, so we drove another 340 miles south to stay with my mother to both celebrate her birthday and to take her for her third monoclonal antibody treatment for follicular lymphoma.

My mother lives in a one bedroom apartment with a tiny kitchen featuring a single electric burner stove and a microwave. The apartment is in an assisted living facility that has a nice restaurant for the residents (we call them inmates!), so not much cooking takes place in those small kitchens. We don't particularly like eating food that isn't organic or that we haven't prepared ourselves, so we have found ways to make fine meals on that one little burner. Of course, breakfast is easy. We travel with a toaster, cutting board, and frying pans. Dinners are a bit trickier. Luckily, there's a Trader Joe's within walking distance of my mother's apartment. We don't have to risk losing our very precious parking space to head out to the store for some of their frozen organic brown rice. We pop that little package into the microwave and within four minutes there's steaming bowl of rice. In one frying pan I can make stir-fries of various flavors. We love tofu and veggies with spicy peanut sauce. Yum. It's an interesting challenge to try and be inventive there, but we give it our best.
A screen grab of my eclipse photos from the camera
So, that's how we spent most of the eight days we were in southern California. We did celebrate my mom's 90th at a lovely restaurant with her grandchildren and their partners. My sister could not be there because she was still the hospital. We took my mother to a doctor's appointment to meet her new primary care physician. We also took her shopping and to visit my sister twice.

On the day before we headed back north to the beach house (and then home from there), I spent four hours at the chemotherapy lab with my mother while she had her infusion. The lab has nine reclining chairs for the patients. There are Registered Nurses, nursing assistants, and administrative staff in the room at all times. Each reclining chair has one of those devices next to it where bags of liquid medicine hang and drip into the veins of the patients. There is only the sound of beeping machines and muffled conversations. On the day we were in the lab all of the chairs were full, and eight of the nine patients were women. My mother was the oldest in the room. There was one woman who looked very close to death. I was surprised she was getting a treatment. One woman entered the lab looking like a well-coiffed and well-dressed business executive. She clicked in high heels all the way across the lab to the recliner next to my mother's. She sat down in the chair, took off those shoes, and put on slippers. Then she proceeded to take off her beautiful long-hair wig and revealed a head of sparsely grown-in hair. I enjoyed her presence very much. We had some light conversation, while her medicine dripped into a vein in her chest. Some of the people had friends or family with them. Most didn't. One woman slept during the process, wearing a beautiful cloth eye mask. One read on her kindle. I sat next to my mother the whole time. She read her book. I played on the computer. At one point I showed her the headline of that day: A  Mass Shooting At A College Campus in Oregon. We shook our heads.
My mother after the infusion
While I was in that lab I thought about how that scenario is repeated all over the country and the world day after day. There are places where people are doing all they can to live as long as they can, and there are medical staff to help them. There are places where madmen have guns and are intent upon ending the lives of strangers. There is desire and disaster, dreams and deadly dramas. Everyday. Everyday.

We are home. Weary, and very glad to be here.