Friday, September 30, 2016

The Skies of September

I usually end the month with a look back at photos that didn't make it on to the blog. So, here are a few of them. Interestingly, it was all about the sky in September, and that's mostly because it was a such a foggy foggy month. When the fog would finally lift, I had to run outside to see the rest of the sky that had been hidden for so long. Here is a bit of what it looked like.

This last photo was first sunrise we had seen all summer. That's how foggy it has been here. As I type this, the fog has returned. Good thing I have a photo to remember!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What I Did Instead of Watching The Debate

I decided just the other day that I would not watch the Presidential Candidates debate. I had to think about what to do while Roger and my mom watched it in the living room. So, I hid in the bedroom with my computer and did this:

I looked at all the photos I've taken in the past few weeks that didn't make it on to the blog, like this one.
Or this one, which I had posted on Facebook. Sheets drying in the morning sun with an iridescent cloud stretched across the sky.
I thought about how wonderful it is that the summer fog has finally left us. We've had such beautiful skies here the past few days. In fact, we've even had a California north coast heatwave, and the temps soared into the 70s for two days in a row. It was really sizzling HOT! for us.

I thought about the walks we've taken at the marsh recently. I had shot a little 30-second video of an American Avocet eating in the muddy flats of the bay. We hadn't seen such behavior before. It was pretty cool to watch.

I looked at the photos I took of Roger's finger injury. Did we tell you about that here? Oh yes, I just checked and see that we did. Well it's healing rather strangely. Even weirder than my finger did. I'm going to post a photo. I highly recommend that you scroll down quickly to avoid seeing his finger, if that kind of stuff makes you squeamish. I'll just wonder why his finger looks so creepy while the debate rages on.
Isn't that the weirdest way for a finger to "heal?" It made me seriously contemplate why it's healing like that. Roger says it doesn't hurt too much. It's still a bit sensitive to touch. Mmmm....Is it something in our diets or in our stars? (I'm kidding. I'm killing time here. Roger just came in to tell me that Trump keeps making faces.) But just typing that line about the stars reminded me of the quote:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
Ah, the poetry of the old world. I'm not going to think about Julius Caesar at a time like this.

I thought about my mom's first visit with her new doctor last Friday and how well it went. We were so concerned that after the excellent care she had through UCLA medical, that she might find the medical care here (where the daily newspaper has articles so often about how there are 1300 patients per primary care physician here) not sufficient. But she truly liked the warmth and insight of her new PCP. And, we took her for an emergency dental appointment Monday morning, where she learned that she has an abscess. Ow ow ow. She came away from that appointment with upbeat enthusiasm, "I really like that dentist. He came in the room and talked to me like he was a friend." Isn't that a wonderful first visit!

I posted on Facebook that I was not going to watch the debate, and my dear friends there kept me posted with their wonderful funny observations and insights. I feel so lucky. I didn't have to subject myself to the horrors of our country's presidential debate, but I could still stay sanely and riotously informed.

And so, I did it. I managed to avoid the political shenanigans and media frenzy that is our country at the moment. I breathed a sigh of relief when it was finally over.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bayer, Monsanto, and Me

It's interesting to see what journey a single headline in the news can send me on. The other day I noticed that Bayer bought Monsanto for $66 billion. Ah, two companies that I particularly dislike. It's not a surprise that Bayer would buy a company that is genetically modifying crops all over the world. If you knew Bayer's history (and relationship to IG Farben) you would know that sometimes the interest of human lives doesn't rank up there with other pressing matters like money and expediency.
IG Farben Plant at Auschwtiz-Monowitz (borrowed without permission)

I would recommend that you google Bayer and take a look at their connection to IG Farben and Auschwitz during World War II. It's horrifying to know what companies were up to in the throes of Nazism and Hitler's regime. If you don't get a chance to read about it, here's an excerpt:
During World War II, IG Farben used slave labor in factories that it built adjacent to German concentration camps, notably Auschwitz,[27] and the sub-camps of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.[28] IG Farben purchased prisoners for human experimentation of a sleep-inducing drug and later reported that all test subjects died.[29][30] IG Farben held a large investment in Degesch which produced Zyclon B used to gas and kill prisoners during the Holocaust.[31]
After World War II, the Allies broke up IG Farben and Bayer reappeared as an individual business "inheriting" many of IG Farben's assets.[29] Fritz ter Meer, an IG Farben board member from 1926 to 1945 who directed operations at the IG Farben plant at Auschwitz, was sentenced to seven years in prison during the IG Farben Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. He was elected Bayer's supervisory board head in 1956.[32]
In 1995, Helge Wehmeier, the head of Bayer, publicly apologized to Elie Wiesel for the company's involvement in the Holocaust at a lecture in Pittsburgh
So the headline about Bayer sent me looking for information about the members of my mother's family who had perished in the Holocaust. I found myself looking at lists of names of the dead. There are so many, and I wasn't sure I had the exact spelling of the name. But it turns out I did, and I found this at the Yad Vashem website. I took a screen shot and then annotated it. My mother's mother's maiden name was Dienstfrei, three names here are her two brothers and her mother.

Finding the names Max and Jacob Dienstfrei, my mother's uncles, reminded that one of their sons, Micah, had survived and was found alive many years later by my my mother's family. He was living in Israel. I did a post about that more then ten years ago. Micah had a son who was living in California, someone my parents met, went to his wedding, and kept in touch with a for a while.

Well, I thought I should check Facebook to see if I could reconnect with these long lost relatives. And, of course, I did. Turns out that not only are they still in California, but their youngest son had just started his freshman year here at the university in Arcata. They were all here in August! What a crazy surprise. I wrote to say we hope they find some comfort in knowing that there is family here on the far north coast. Yes, family. This young boy's now-deceased grandfather was my mother's first cousin. And here we are practically neighbors. The history of our connection is almost beyond what I can convey.

So, Bayer and Monsanto, as much as I truly detest your presence on earth, I am glad you sent me on this journey.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Our One and Only Earth

One of my favorite images found on the internet

I think the politics of my country and the world has finally overwhelmed me. Nearly every headline is a reminder of just how bleak things are. While we do go out for wonderful walks in our quiet and lovely spot on earth, I can't seem to forget just how crazy things are everywhere. I started thinking about a book we read several years ago called The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. So, I went and reread the post we did about it almost a decade ago. Wow, we were just as blown away back then, and probably much more eloquent about our despair than we are now.

Re-reading that post spurred me to see what Alan Weisman has been up to lately. I found a review of a book he wrote in 2013 called Countdown. If you don't go to the link, here's the first paragraph:

If we wanted to bring about the extinction of the human race as quickly as possible, how might we proceed? We could begin by destroying the planet’s atmosphere, making it incapable of supporting human life. We could invent bombs capable of obliterating the entire planet, and place them in the hands of those desperate enough to detonate them. We could bioengineer our main food sources — rice, wheat and corn — in such a way that a single disease could bring about catastrophic famine. But the most effective measure, counterintuitive as it may be, would be to increase our numbers. Population is what economists call a multiplier. The more people, the greater the likelihood of ecological collapse, nuclear war, plague.
I know this is a bleak subject, but do you ever wonder what the heck we humans are doing here on earth, our one and only beautiful planet? I think about it probably way too often. One of the things that I am reminded of is how hard it is for people to actually grasp what the number 7,400,000,000 humans actually means tangibly.  I once calculated that one million seconds equals twelve days; one billion seconds is 32 years, so seven billion seconds would take 224 years. If you wanted to look at each human on earth for just one second, it would take you 224 years. Does that even convey how many people are on the planet?

A dear friend posted this on Facebook the other day. It had originally been posted by Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd. I thought it was worth sharing.
What do you think the future holds for us on our one and only earth? Will humans wake up? And what would it mean to wake up? If you were going to help solve the problems, how would you begin? I sincerely have no ideas.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Monday, September 05, 2016

Living The New Way Now

Dressed and ready to go out to dinner
It's been a little more than two weeks since my mom moved in with us. It's been surprisingly easy adjusting our minimal routines and accommodating her needs into our life. So far so good. She is a fairly quiet woman who enjoys reading a well-written novel and a good newspaper. So we have been supplying her with books (and my sister puts new things to read on her Kindle) and having the New York Times delivered to our house everyday.
The new recliner
And yet, we haven't been going out much for our usual walks. Or we have been going out, but have been distracted by things going on, things needing to be done. Boxes unpacked. Doctor appointments made. Scheduling haircuts and visits to the California DMV for an ID card address changes. Dealing with the newspaper when they couldn't figure out how to deliver to our door for the first week she was here. Things we would not have thought about at all three weeks ago. Now they are part of our everyday lives, replacing the things we might have done or seen or read. But I look up while I'm typing this and see her reading in the new recliner that got delivered on Friday. She is comfortable in it, and can usually remember how to press the right buttons to lift her feet and lower the back. It's just so good to see her happy and healthy.

And then I remember that Roger is napping as I type this because he spent most of the night awake and in pain. He had spent a good part of the past four days removing a mirror in my mom's bathroom that had been stupidly glued to the wall. Then he fixed the wall, spackled it, repainted it, and hung the newly purchased medicine cabinet along with the beautiful new matching shelf he built. While drilling the last screw in, it slipped and he drilled the fourth finger on his left hand. OW OW OW. Good thing we have the bandages, gauze pads, and finger cots left over from when I cut off the finger pad on my finger in November 2015. We are getting to be first-aid pros.

I still run outside to peek at the sky. Even a contrail can wow me these days. Ah, the skies over suburbia.