Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Bull Whip Kelp

We headed out to Trinidad Beach on Sunday for another mind-calming, therapeutic walk. It was a beautiful day, and we saw monsters (!) in the harbor.
Part way up the trail, looking north

Top of the trail, looking north at the same beach
Heading down the other side looking southeast at the harbor

What are those crazy monsters in the sea

Our first look at Bull Whip Kelp, native to the west coast
We've seen lots of Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) in Monterey Bay, but this was our first look at Bull Whip Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana). Another reminder of the crazy awesome beauty of our earth.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Walking A New Trail

Lately we've noticed that even when we're out walking at the marsh we can't seem to stop worrying and talking about our current political situation in our country. So many things loom on the horizon. Things like Korea, Russia, the Middle East, climate change, tax reform, the Senate race in Alabama. It has all gotten so distracting that the poem Peace of Wild Things seemed no longer true.
That red dot is where we were walking. The Hammond Trail goes five miles along the ocean here.
So we decided to walk a new trail. We drove just a bit north up the coast and walked a short part of the Hammond Trail.
This view is looking across the Mad River and out to the ocean. If you click on the photo you can see the waves. We stood there a while and breathed in the calm ocean air.
This is the view looking north. You can see Trinidad Head and the river making its way to the ocean. It was good to look far into the blue of it all.
The birds flew and dipped into the river. They moved in unison, and their shadows flitted on the river like a ballet in a mirror. No words.

We walked and walked. We saw a harbor seal, or I should say s/he saw us and slipped into the river as quietly as could be. I waited for it to pop up again, and when it did it looked right at us and slipped back under. It was a brief encounter between our two species. And yet it reminded me that Wendell Berry had it right. We can still come into the peace of wild things.

When we got home we both realized and reveled in the fact that we had not thought of politics for at least an hour, and it felt good.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: The Sky Is My Ocean

We don't always have the beautiful ocean outside our windows, but we do always have the sky. So sometimes the sky is my ocean. All photos taken this month just outside our front door looking east.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Remembering Reminiscence

It's been a week since we arrived home from our ten day journey south and back. I've been thinking about our time with my mom in the memory care facility and thought I'd write about it here. Because of her wandering behavior she is in the locked part of the facility called Reminiscence. The fellow residents are all in various stages of dementia and Alzheimer's. Some need a caregiver for every move they make from their rooms to the dining hall and back; some have their heads down all day long; some play games at the dining tables between meals; some walk around on their own with walkers. No one can leave without knowing the code to get out.
My mom laughing at the news, which she said seems to be all about sex lately!
It sounds bleaker than it is. The caregivers there are truly remarkable human beings. We were struck by their calm demeanor; their compassion; their non-stop work like a day care center for elderly in Depends.

We did have some interesting, weird, and a bit disconcerting (bordering on traumatizing) experiences while we were there, but it was just a regular day for the staff. On the first day, we sat in the little comfy living room area with my mom. It has a music player and a cabinet full of things to distract idle hands. While we were there we heard seriously loud screaming coming from the dining room across the hall. A woman was screeching, "This is my house. I bought it. I want everyone to get out of here. Get out!!!" She yelled that on the top of her high pitched lungs over and over. It was absolutely wild. It went on and on. The staff intervened; she persisted. The staff tried to get her to her room. She persisted. My mom decided she'd heard enough and wanted to go back to her own room. In the hallway we crossed paths with the screamer. She yelled at us, "Get out of here. This is my house. Get out!!!!" My mom, of course wanted to engage, but we quietly moved her on. Yikes.

The next day, while we were sitting in the same living room area with my mom, the same woman started screaming in the hall. SCREAMING. She had to be constrained by one of the bigger caregivers. She had to be stopped from trying to go into a restroom that was already being used by someone. The battle was fierce, like a holding back a wild creature. Another very disconcerting moment for all of us.

And still the staff was calm and attentive. It made us feel like my mom is really in a good place.

We "met' several other residents. There was one who said the exact same thing to us over and over, everyday for five days. "I want to go home. I just want to go home. I tell them, and they won't help me. I just want to go home." She said it us in the dining room. She said it to us in the hallway. She said it us on the patio in the afternoon sunshine while the hummingbirds came to check out the flowers and feeders. She said it to us in the little comfy living room. She just wants to go home; it's a fairly common lament for Alzheimer's patients, even those living in the homes they've been in forever.
My mom dancing with a caregiver
One of the highlights of the visit was seeing the entertainment provided to the residents in the afternoons. You would be surprised by the lovely performers who come to sing for an hour after lunch. They bring speakers and equipment and really put on quite a show. They offer maracas and tambourines to the residents, and they sing all the old oldies that the residents know and love. One of the things that I've read about Alzheimer's is that music somehow stays familiar even when so many other memories have faded. Residents in wheelchairs with their heads down, who never look up, would sing a refrain right on cue when the microphone came their way. It was truly beautiful to see. That, and other residents rocking their shoulders in perfect rhythm and motion to the music. Not many would get up and dance, but my mom did with one of the sweetest caregivers. I'll confess that I stood in the hallway and had a rather nice little dance with one of the residents (who swears he doesn't really live there, and really will only be there for two weeks, and wouldn't we like to come to his real house and stay with him!).

This is life in a memory care facility. We were both saddened and enlightened by the experience. I'll tell you this, it made me want to volunteer at a local facility, and maybe I will one day...maybe I will.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Scenes From Capitola

The view when we arrived and opened the blinds

Circumzenithal arc over the house

Paddle boarders in the sparkling bay
Sunrise the morning we packed the car for the trip home

Monday, November 20, 2017

The First Half Of The Journey Home

There was a time when two 350 mile days of highways didn't knock us out as much as they do now. We have to take a day between to let our bodies recover from such an uncomfortable hurling trip on old roadways. So, we headed out on Friday from southern CA back to the beach house. We usually stop about 100 miles into the trip at the Gaviota Rest Stop. But on the way south we noticed that it was closed in both directions, so we knew we had to make other plans for the trip back. We decided to stop at Refugio State Park for our morning break to snack on our homemade granola with raisins, apples, and yogurt. We never go to restaurants, so when we paid the $10 entry fee for our brief half hour stay, we figured it was less than what we would pay for a breakfast at a roadside restaurant. When we arrived at the picnic area we fell in love.
This was just about the most wonderful place to unwind and relax. It was quiet, no sound of the roaring highway, just the rolling waves and gulls calling.
This is the view looking south.
The view looking north, curlews at the surf and oil rigs at the horizon
We sat  delighted with the choice to stop here and knew that we would do this whenever we travel these roads. Breakfast at the beach and a two minute drive back to the freeway.

From here we drove up through the Salinas Valley. It was such a beautiful day with the sun shining and the hills bathed in light. The grape vines were yellowing  in the autumn air. I took photos while we zoomed through at 75 mph. I think you can see the calm beauty of the moment. It looked like this for a hundred miles.

This was the first half of our journey north to Capitola. All the way, all the way I kept saying, "I love California. I just love California." It's true.

Monday, November 13, 2017

700 Miles Later

We finally were able to make the journey south. We hit the road on Friday and drove 350 miles to Roger's family beach house. Roger has been coming to this house since before he was born. And now, he's been there every year for the past 75. I can't even imagine what that must feel like, 75 years of history in one place. It's always so beautiful there. The moment we walk in the door, I run and open the blinds and look out to the bay, then open the door to the deck and go out to breathe the ocean air. The 350 miles slip away in an instant. The ocean always says Be Here Now.
We woke Saturday morning to this lovely sunrise.
And later in the day walked down to the wharf and watched this Snowy Egret contemplating the tide coming in.
Sunday morning we headed south for the second half of the journey. It's another 350 miles, but very different from the first half of the trip. This one always has traffic jams in the last 75 miles that come to a full stop and inch along mile after mile. We're always so relieved to get out of the car and finally be done with it.

And then this happens, and all those miles just slip away. We go to see my mom in the memory care facility, and she was so happy to see us. It always makes our hearts soar to be with her. We're staying until Friday, so there will be lots of time for all this love.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Tuesday's Sky

We're expecting big rains over the next few days. Tuesday's sky told us this story.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Lookin' Out The Window

Life gets pretty small when you're sick. The view is limited. The perspective framed by glass and windowpanes. It had been foggy for days again, and then the rains came. It was boring as could be, but then I noticed this.
The yard was filling up with birds flitting about from fence to tree, from tree to garden and then back. I was delighted watching them. There were so many different species I was actually surprised. There were, of course, the usual hummingbirds and their territorial confrontations. It was this bird, the Fox Sparrow that caught my attention. At first I thought it was a Hermit's Thrush (and that's probably because my twin brother had just sent me a photo of the one he saw in his yard). So I got distracted by trying to identify it. That took time, and that was fun.
Then this lovely little Black-capped Chickadee showed up. It climbed up the tree trunk like a woodpecker, and even moved up and down the fence boards like a ninja. I loved watching it. It didn't stay still long enough for a good photo, but it took my attention, and that was fun.
I'd been noticing this Black Phoebe hunting insects in the yard for days. I love when it sits on the wheelbarrow wheel like this. I had the time to wait for it to pose, and when it did, I clicked. That was fun.

The next morning, before sunrise I saw the full moon in the western sky. Oh that halo was such a lovely sight after all the days of fog and rain. I grabbed the camera with my heart full of joy, and that was fun.

The sun came out. Oh, it was beautiful. I could see all the spider webs everywhere between the fence boards. We had no idea how removing every other fence board would create such lush spider habitat, but it did. They are such tireless little spinners. And their work is really quite lovely when lit by the morning sun. Yes, I had fun.
Even the tired old rose hips took on a look of webbed beauty after the spiders' spinning magic. I enjoyed the view even if it did remind me that I needed to go out and deadhead the roses again. Ah, when I'm feeling better I promised myself. And I will, and it will be fun.

PS- I'm getting better! My voice is a little raspy and I croak like a frog when I try to talk very much, but I am on the way to good health. Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful good wishes. I appreciated every word.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Sidetracked By Life

Foggy foggy day at the marsh
We were supposed to be on the road heading south, but yet again the trip got sidetracked. This time it's by my suddenly very crappy health. I don't know why, but I have something that I have diagnosed as GERD via my relentless online sleuthing. This is a true painful burning fist in the chest bummer. Now I wonder about every bit of food I put in mouth. I wonder if I'm eating too much, eating too spicy, eating too acidic, eating too much chocolate (is there such a thing?), drinking too much wine (seriously I drink less than a full glass of wine that I DILUTE!)? I haven't figured out the triggers yet, but I'm definitely working on it. And, on top of that nightmare, I also seem to have picked up a nice little virus when I spent the morning at the hospital waiting for Roger to have his most-excellent colonoscopy. Scratchy throat, persistent cough, lots of sneezing and whining about everything.
Teasel with drops
I spoke with my mom and coughed my way through a conversation about why we weren't coming down, yet again. She said, "Please don't come until you are COMPLETELY better." I said, "Okay, mom." We had a delightful conversation. I asked her if she received the card I sent with the photo of Roger's homemade wooden sun. She said she had. She told me when we do come down she wanted Roger to sign the card as the "artist." We had a good laugh about that. I told her how much we miss her and love her. She said she knew. She said "Our whole family loves each other. We're a bunch of nuts!" We laughed about that too. I love laughing with her. It makes my day, especially when I'm feeling as crappy as I am right now.
Sweet potatoes
I had a different post partially written for today. Then I got sidetracked looking for family photos to post with it. It's about my older brother Marc who I hardly ever write about here. He lives in Virginia on his beautiful 80 acres where he gardens madly, raises cows and chickens, and cooks homegrown organic everything. The thing that inspired me was a photo he sent with a some of the 322 pounds of sweet potatoes he had harvested. It made me think about how he's lived on the east coast 3000 miles away all these past 45 years, and we hardly ever get to see him except for those rare full family gatherings. He's not much of a traveler and neither am I. But there is something about family love that truly spans the distance of time and space. So, expect to see that post in the near future.

Until then, I'm going to watch what I eat and hope for the best. Hey universe, I sure wouldn't mind a break, thank you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Words on a Wednesday

A rose bouquet on a single stem
Roger's colonoscopy went very well. No signs of lesions, cancer, or polyps. We are so relieved. The doctor even said if things stay as they are, Roger won't need another colonoscopy for FIVE YEARS!!! That news is like suddenly being set free. Five years seems so far into the future. He'll be 80 years old and I'll be 70. Tell me that doesn't sound like a million years from now!

So, the fires are out in the wine country, and Roger is well. You know what that means? Yes, a road trip south to see my mom. We'll be heading out sometime this coming weekend, spending a few days in Capitola at the beach house, and then down to the land of too-many-people too-many-cars southern California. At least we won't be there during the brutal heatwave they're experiencing right now. It's even hot here, 80+ degrees. That's CRAZY!
We cleaned up the garden and got it ready for winter. The tomatoes and zucchinis are all gone. We have kale, chard, and lettuce that will over-winter here. Flowers are blooming like wild out in the front yard. It surprises me that so late in October we still have so many dahlias and roses. The Lesser Goldfinches are taking every cosmos seed they can get their little beaks on, and even the hummingbirds are finding feasts out there.

All is good right now... well unless you turn on the news. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

modern medicine

i’m having a medical procedure done soon. in preparation i have to modify my diet a slight bit for a few days. nothing major or difficult, just avoiding certain foods. i also have to drink a weird cocktail of chemicals the day before. sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate, and magnesium sulfate.

i want a picture here but nothing relevant to this post. this is some of our garden heading into winter.

ok, the procedure is a colonoscopy and the chemicals are heavy duty laxatives. i got a coupon from the doctor’s office for up to 30% off whatever price i pay. i checked it out on the internet. anyone can print one.

so we go to the pharmacy, ask for the prescription, and put down the coupon. i am currently without drug insurance due to a hiccup in switching our medicare supplemental policies to a different provider. my 3 month supply of blood pressure meds went from $8 (insured) to $47 (uninsured). i hadn’t really thought ahead about the cost of laxatives. how much could it cost? about one hundred dollars is how much. my widely available coupon did save me 30%.

i wondered how much the ingredients of such super pooper stuff might cost. the package informed me that 6 oz of product contains 17.5 G sodium sulfate, 3.13 G of potassium sulfate, and 1.6G of magnesium sulfate. there are two 6 oz bottles.

after a whole 4 minutes of internet search i found that i could buy medical grade stuff pretty cheaply.

sodium sulfate 500G for $54.50. so 500/17.5 = 28 doses: $54.5/28 = $1.95 per 6 oz bottle.

potassium sulfate 250G for $53.40. so 250/3.13 = 79 doses: $53.40/79 = $0.67 per 6 oz bottle

magnesium sulfate 500G for $73.90. so 500/1.6 = 312: $73.90/312 = $0.24 per 6 oz bottle.

that’s $3.72 of ingredients in 2 6 oz bottles.

i know that presenting that product to me in a sanitary package involves a whole lot more than the ingredients. even so.

why i'm having a colonoscopy 

this will be my third colonoscopy after surgery and chemo. there were polyps but no cancer. i have also had 4 pet scans since surgery and nary a sign of a cancer cell.