Monday, July 31, 2017

End of July Photos

I got my computer back last Thursday. I had a chance to look at the photos I took on the trip south to see my mom. Lots of cloud photos in Capitola, and then birds here at home. So here they are. (The Cooper's Hawk was perched on our front gate, and the rainbow rays were from the highway photos.)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rebuilding A Mountain

Back on April 26th, a landslide came down and blocked both lanes of Highway 101, the major route in and out of Humboldt County. A traveler that day videoed the event. The winter rains had been playing havoc with the roads for months, which is why there were already work crews there trying to keep the highway open with at least one lane of traffic. This, of course, closed it down completely for a while. When we headed south on July 13th, this part of the highway was still down to one lane of traffic, with up to 40 minute delays while workers attempted to shore up the side of the mountain.
It was a beautiful sunny day while we waited with other travelers, parked along the Eel River. That patch of brown mountain is where the slide came down. While we waited, we heard a helicopter approach and looked up to see this.
The helicopter was bringing metal netted sheeting to be place on the side of the mountain in an effort to secure it and to keep it from rock-sliding down again on to the already beleaguered highway. We watched as it lowered these strips to workers hardly visible on the mountainside.
The pattern seemed to be to do four helicopter deliveries, and then let the traffic go through. So we just watched and waited our turn for the call for south traffic to come ahead. A very nice employee drove along telling everyone, "Get ready to start your engines!"
How's that for a long, arduous day's work?
Our return trip was on a Sunday, so we didn't get to see any work being done. There are traffic lights installed at both ends of the work zone, letting the traffic pass north and south, one lane at a time. The work is supposed to go on until October, when the winter rains could begin again.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Some People Break Computers...

... and I'm one of them. It's true. I have broken every computer I've owned, and I don't know how or why. I am very careful. I turn my computer off at night. I have different passwords for every site. I back up regularly. Still, they break one after another. Last year Roger put a Solid State hard drive in my old MacBook Pro. It worked great for about six months and then it started to do some wacky things. Instead of "going to sleep" it would go into a coma every time. I had to restart every few minutes. It was getting completely unusable. So, we decided to just buy me a new computer. That was in June. It was a nice new MacBook Pro, much lighter than my old one, and quite speedy. I liked it very much. When we were on the central coast last weekend, I was showing my twin brother and sister-in-law some photos on the computer. I looked away for one second and then looked back. Suddenly, there was a vertical pink line straight down the center of the screen. It was weird. So, I restarted the computer, thinking it was a temporary glitch. Nope. It came right back and stayed. Sometimes the line was a light green. Still, it was always there, strangely distracting. So, when we got back home, we brought the computer to the local Mac repair shop. I handed the computer to the guy behind the counter and he turned it on. He said, "Uh-oh." I said, "Uh-oh." He said that looks like a manufacturer problem. "You'll have to leave that with us for a few days to see what we can do." So I did.

All of the photos from the trip are on that computer sitting on a shelf at the repair shop. Yes, I have a backup, but my old Mac, which I'm using now (Roger put in the old hard-drive, and it's behaving for now) won't let me grab photos off of it. I wanted to post some of the beautiful cloud formations we saw over Monterey Bay. Luckily, I did post a photo on Facebook which I'll post here. It's one of my favorite moments of the trip. Anti-crepuscular rays, earth's shadow, and the Belt of Venus all in one shot. And, interestingly I didn't even notice that's what I was photographing that evening at sunset looking east. I had gone out just to photograph the very cool clouds.

Well, if things work out, I'll be able to share more of what we saw, but for now, it's just this photo on my very old computer. So, do you break computers or know someone who does? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Crossing The Golden Gate Home

We left Capitola early Sunday morning for the long (350 miles) trip home. We leave early with the plan to get through San Francisco and cross the Golden Gate Bridge by 9:30. The city gets so busy, crazy, crowded so fast and we have to drive through it on regular city streets (19th Avenue) to cross the bridge. Sunday mornings are best for zooming, so we zoom along. There is a vista point rest area just on the other side of the bridge. We stop there for some tea and toast that we pack along with us. And we take in the view. It's always beautiful no matter what.
It's just one of those places that takes your breath away, makes you glad that you've come this way and stopped for a bit of tea and toast. The fog was just hanging out over the entire city. We laughed about what Mark Twain didn't really say, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." I really wished he had said that, but Snopes said he didn't. It's true nonetheless.

Thank you all for you wonderful heartfelt and uplifting comments on the post about our visit with my mom. It really helps to share these stories of her journey. I called her when we arrived back in Arcata to let her know we were safely home. She actually answered the phone. She sounded sweet and lovely and wispy and full of love. I told her that I would be sending her homemade cards again, now that we're here. She said, "I love your cards. I can't wait." I think I'll send her this.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Our Visit So Far

We arrived on Sunday and went to see my mom in the Memory Care unit of the Assisted Living facility. She was sitting in her recliner, resting. When she opened her eyes and saw us, she gave us the sweetest smile and warmest greeting. She remembered who we were. She had been having a bad day, the kind of day that worried the staff there.
Roger photographed my mom and me together. I was so happy to have my arm around her shoulders and our hands together like this. So much love, so much love.
I photographed Roger with her. It was a wonderfully playful moment. Roger pointed at the camera and told her to look there. She thought it would be funnier to just point with him. So good to laugh with her.

On Monday the phone rang at my sister's telling us that the facility thought my mother's behavior had changed so much before we arrived on Sunday that it warranted a trip to the ER. They told us, "If you don't take her, we'll call 911." Well alright, we said, we'll take her. And that's what we did.
We picked her up and spent the next 5 1/2 hours in the ER with her. Turns out Monday's are their busiest day, and the hospital we took her to is the local trauma unit. So, while we waited, people arrived in various stages of bloody messes, and others arrived via ambulances and helicopters. It was quite a scene. Eventually, we were put in a room that was also a bit of a storage room where staff came in to get hot blankets out of a large heater, and a giant cupboard full of hospital stuff. One nurse came in to check every item in that cupboard for expiration dates and toss to the floor all the things that were out of date. He was not on duty to be mom’s nurse, but he just couldn’t help himself, so he helped her use the commode twice. He brought Roger and me some food, and after my mom had her CT scan, he brought her pudding, apple juice, and Cheezits. He was THE BEST. We laughed with him and had a good time. That made a huge difference. She had the CT scan to see if she had had another stroke. Negative. So, we waited to be released and took her back to the facility. It was quite a day. 

On Tuesday we brought her to my sister's so she could spend a few hours with her great-grandson. It was adorable in every way. My mom laughed. The baby laughed. There was a lot of cooing and sweetness. What more could we ask for? Not much... except maybe to have my mom back with her full cognitive skills. She's so gone, farther than I thought possible. Still the love remains.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Words On A Wednesday

On Thursday we start the long drive south to see my mom. It's 700 miles (1126.5 km). We're going to stop in Capitola for the weekend and then continue on to the land of blistering heat. Looking forward to spending a few days seeing with our own eyes how she is doing. I did get to talk with her on Monday, and it was startlingly wonderful. She picked up the phone when I called and said, "Hello Robin, I got it on the second ring!" It brings tears to my eyes just to type those words. The week before when she called me, she said in that vague and wispy voice, "Hi Robin, I'm waiting for the man to take me home." That broke my heart in every way. So who will we see when we get there? I don't know, but I know she's going to recognize Roger right away. She loves him so much.
Sea Lions in November 2013
We're looking forward to the few days we'll have at the beach house. We never know what we're going to see out those windows on to Monterey Bay, but we know it is always beautiful in every way. It's the best respite for us to split the trip south and north with time to stare out at the water hoping to see dolphins and whales, sea lions and seals, or maybe thousands and thousands of shearwaters.
Or maybe we'll watch paddleboarders among the pelicans, amazed by the awesome beauty of our planet.

We'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 10, 2017

This Is Our Balance

How are you doing it? Staying sane in these times. Do you avoid the news? Avoid Facebook? Avoid thinking all together? We're having a bit of a struggle these days. We've always liked to stay informed, but suddenly it all feels like too much. Just typing those words reminded me of this cartoon I've seen floating around the internet these past few weeks and months.
One of the things that works for us to maintain our sanity (such that it is) is to take long walks. A couple of miles a day really helps to balance the things we know are going on, but don't really want to delve into too deeply. We breathe in the ocean air and exhale the mind-numbing reality that is our country these days.
A scene like this, the marsh on Sunday, the sky blue, the air calm, the duckweed vibrantly green across the whole pond; this is our balance.
Further along the trail the lake is covered in algae, more than we've seen here over the years. The colors remind me of a map of the world, stretched out before us like a beautiful reminder of our earth. This is our balance, the place we take our steps, our breath. This.

It occurred to me after I put this post together to search the blog on the word "balance." Interesting how often in the past few years I've posted something about seeking balance from the onslaught of the challenging world. It also occurred to me that the other thing Roger and I do to balance the insanity is we have wine, wonderful organic red wine from the wine country of California. Roger suggested our new motto: Wine or whine, that's your choice!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: One Day--Near and Far

Ctenucha rubroscapus

Beach walk

Monday, July 03, 2017

Sunday At The Marsh

We finally got out to marsh on Sunday for a nice long walk, and it occurred to me that perhaps I haven't mentioned that there is a lot of construction being done out there all week long. The only time for a quiet walk is on weekends. They're building a bike/hike trail from Arcata to Eureka (7 miles) that goes through the marsh. It's going to take until October to get the marsh part done. So, we wait until quiet Saturdays and Sundays to head out. When we arrived at 2:00 pm the foggy mist was rising off the low tide bay.
Yes, as I mentioned in the previous post it has been foggy overcast gloomy here. This is actually a bright moment! Seriously, it warmed up to 61 degrees. We were HOT out there with our wool sweaters and flannel shirts. The sun made a brief and beautiful appearance.

We did get to watch this Egret for a while as it hunted for food.
It was interesting to watch it scratch at the wet mucky sand, stirring it up and causing the inhabitants to become more apparent for a meal.

We hadn't seen anything like it before. We've watched them hunt, but never noticed an action to encourage a meal to present itself. Pretty smart behavior.

Then we came home and the brief hour of sunlight faded to an expanse of gray white skies that stretched on to forever.