Wednesday, August 31, 2016

End of August Photos

Monday, August 29, 2016

I Had Almost Forgotten

I got an email the other day from Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics. He sent me a photo he had taken of an open book. Ah, I had almost forgotten that my very first photo of an iridescent cloud was being published in Roger Brugge's new book in England. I first wrote about this here.
Oh wow! There it was. I can't tell you how grateful I am to Les for remembering and sending this to me. He is really one of the nicest people on the planet. It's been almost six years since I sent Les this photo. Back in November of 2010, after I had learned that what I was seeing was called an iridescent cloud and not a sundog, I googled iridescent clouds and fell in love with the Atmospheric Optics website. Les and I have been corresponding ever since.
This is the sight that changed my life, seriously. I took a turn down the atmospheric optics highway and have never looked back.

One of the best parts of having a look at this photo in a book was being able to show it to my mom. Yes, she loved it! Her sky-loving-run-outside-with-the-camera daughter is almost famous!

Monday, August 22, 2016


A blogging friend who lives in Hawaii told me this word "Ohana" when I posted on Facebook that my mother came to live with Roger and me last Friday. Ohana. According to Wikipedia, "Part of Hawaiian culture, ʻohana means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional). The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another." So, here we are in our newly defined family. 
My mom, Roger, and twin brother having lunch on the deck
My twin brother flew from Virginia with my mom. It was a long 11 hour journey that meant three planes and a lot of chaos for a woman who will be 91 in September. But she is here now with us, and we plan to keep her healthy, happy, and whole for as long as we can. 
On Sunday, we took her to see the Pacific Ocean. She said it had been many, many years since she had seen it. We were lucky. We headed ten miles north to Trinidad Bay and the sun was shining on these blue blue waters. She loved the smell and sound of the sea. She said, "This will keep me healthy." Yes, I think she is right.
We drove back toward Arcata and stopped at an overlook to see if we could see the mouth of the Mad River and the sea lions that gather there. But the tide was high, and the river was not visible. The fog had come back in, and all we could see was a hint of the blue skies we had left in Trinidad, reflected on the edge of the sea there. 

Then, back to Arcata to stop at the market to a pick up a few things for dinner. My mom stayed in the car, already too tired to venture out to shop. When we got home, she went straight to bed for a nap. Yes, our new life begins. Ohana.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: The Other Photos

Photos I didn't post from the other day, and a few more.

Monday, August 15, 2016

When The Fog Lifted

We headed out for a walk at the marsh Sunday afternoon. The fog had burned off, giving us a few hours of beautiful warm sunshine on a calm, blue-sky day.
We didn't take our usual walk. Well actually we did, but in reverse. When were driving in toward the parking lot I had noticed a large group of shorebirds that looked rather photogenic. If we took our usual walk, these birds would have been at the end of the walk. It was unlikely that they would hang around waiting for us to come by in an hour or so to take their photos. So we headed in their direction right away.
There was something about that tall one that caught my attention. It had such a long-billed presence. I just had to zoom in to see who it was. Oh wow! It was a Long-billed Curlew! What a wonderful surprise. We don't see them very often.
When we got home from the walk, I thought I should read a bit about their habitat and life and found this disappointing bit of news:
Long-billed Curlews appear to be declining in eastern parts of their breeding range such as the Great Plains, while they are slightly increasing in some western areas. A 2012 study estimated a North American population of about 140,000 birds. Long-billed Curlew rates a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. It is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds Watch List, which lists species most in danger of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. The species was much more numerous in the nineteenth century, but numbers fell in response to hunting and conversion of their grassland breeding habitat to agriculture and housing. This is thought to be one reason why Long-billed Curlews are now scarce in winter along the Atlantic coast. The major continuing threat to Long-billed Curlews is habitat loss owing both to development and projected effects of climate change. For example, more than 75% of Canadian native grasslands are gone, and wintering habitat in California wetlands has declined by 90%. Pesticide spraying may harm curlews indirectly by reducing the birds' food supplies, particularly grasshoppers. According to NatureServe, breeding populations are of particular concern in Arizona and Kansas.
Well, that is not very good news at all. I can't imagine looking at a creature like this and then learning that it is on the list of species in most danger of extinction. I don't even know what to write about this. It's a heartbreak and one that I feel so powerless about.

I was going to post a few more photos of other things we saw at the marsh, but this news made me want to end the post here. Well, I will add, these birds were indeed gone when we passed by on the way out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Monday, August 08, 2016

How We Spent The Day

It's been a couple of days since we celebrated Roger's 74th birthday. We had such a good time going for a walk at the marsh and at the beach, and then to a great dinner prepared with love by Roger's daughter Elena. So much fun to spend a birthday celebration with the kids and grandkids 'cause you know there's going to be singing and candles and fun.

For me the day was spent seeing things I love, like Roger being feted, wonderful migrating shorebirds, and more crazy views of highway mirages. I hardly ever take photos of family, so there's none of that here, but the birds and mirages were grand.

We took a different path at the marsh to see if we could see if and where the tide comes into this part of the muddy flats. We came away thinking the tide didn't come in here, but we did see some nice views of the Great Egret and three Snowy Egrets.
We also saw many migrating Long-billed Dowitchers (the pretty buff-colored birds) and the Greater Yellowlegs. Really liked seeing them together in one photo.

Then, we left the marsh, came home, had lunch and headed back out for a walk at Samoa Beach.
The highway mirages were pretty grand this day. Roger and I loved seeing the refracted blue light of the car. Once you start noticing these things, you see that on warm sunny days, they are pretty reliably right where you expect them to be.

I'm hoping to get a photo of Roger refracted in a mirage and post that with him reflected in the wet sands of a retreating tide. It's important to have goals in life. Mine are small and hopefully achievable. And I am so grateful Roger is such a willing model.

Wonder what we'll do next year? By then, I'll be 65 and on Medicare and Roger will be 75. Two senior citizens having fun everyday, that's what I think!

Roger and I both thank you for all the wonderful heartfelt birthday messages. Your good cheer was part of the very good day.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016


so today is the 74th anniversary of my birth. the number seems unreal to me. seems REALLY old. i think i look at it out of younger eyes. and how does that work? i have some evidence of aging: very thin skin that bruises ridiculously easily (mechanically speaking only, my emotional skin has toughened with age), whatever aging does to eyes that makes lights at night have haloes; finger and toe nails thick and hard to trim, aching body in the am, tiring way too quickly after physical work, other stuff i have  forgotten, did i mention short term memory lapses? i forget.

on the whole though ( i do remember some cliches) i am quite happy to have arrived here in fairly good health. i stand mostly erect. i can still pick up heavy stuff. my blood pressure tends high but is moderated properly by a low dose of meds, the only meds i take. i had colon cancer cut out and haven’t had only indication of relapse. though i bruise easily cuts and abrasions heal quickly. after many years of carpentry i still have all my digits.

what have i learned in 74 years: that i can accomplish as much moving slowly and thoughtfully as i can at top speed and enjoy it more, that i learn more by listening than talking, that measuring twice and cutting once is good, that all i want in an auto is comfort, safety, and reliability, that the kind words of friends and family might indicate that i am not as bad a person as i often think i am,

summing up, in conclusion, and looking back…… what a long strange trip it’s been!

also some words of wisdom...

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Never Not

It's been warm and sunny here. So warm and so full of sunshine that the news made the front page headline of our local newspaper. The headline said: Sunny weather to persist into and through the week. This is big news around here where the typical summer weather is fog, fog, and more fog. So, we've been out enjoying this good fortune of blue skies and balmy temperatures. There is a minus tide expected this week as well, so our non-existent calendar is full of rendezvous with beauty.

On Monday we went to the marsh for a quick three mile walk in the morning. The tide was almost at its highest for the day. That typically means there wouldn't be many birds or wildlife around, just lots of views of skypools and sunlit mountain vistas. We were surprised though to see this.
If you click on the photo and take a good look there are a lot of birds here. I did a zoomed in shot to try and capture the numbers.
If you click on this you'll see the density of birds here. We were really surprised. And not only that, they all would take off at once and then shift direction at once in the most beautiful graceful dance on wings. We were mesmerized, watching them and saying out loud, "Oh wow. Oh wow." Over and over. Then, we saw the heron that's been hunting the brackish pond. It was here in the tidal zone.
It looked as if it was wearing a fancy scarf on such a warm day. We moved on, but not before we waved and thanked it for being so photogenic for us.

As we were heading back to the car, we remembered that we wanted to take one more look at Klopp Lake (the lake closest to the parking lot) to see if we could see what we thought might be some Night Herons on the first island. When we got there, we still couldn't see the island well enough to see who was there. But I glanced down right in front of us and saw this Night Heron not more than fifteen feet from where we were standing.
Oh wow, we said again and again. We couldn't believe how beautiful this bird was. It made our day. We thanked it many times and left the marsh laughing. I said to Roger, "It's always beautiful here, isn't it. It's never not."