Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Rays

Crepuscular rays looking east before sunrise Sunday morning

Anti-crepuscular rays looking west before sunrise Sunday morning

Monday, December 10, 2018

Conversations With A Four-Year Old

We've been doing a bit of child care lately. A couple of hours a week spent with either our four year old grandson or his seven year old sister. Not both at the same time because they have different schedules, and honestly we haven't honed our skills to take on a task of that magnitude with such high energy little beings.
We have arranged the living room so that the kids have access to the new colored pencils, the new construction paper, and all the new stickers to play with at their leisure. They love it. Much time is spent on the floor with papers and pencils strewn everywhere, scissors and glue too. We don't use our fireplace, so it's become their art exhibition wall. They love that as well. We have a cork board in our bedroom filled with their art and love notes.

The other day Ian was here with us for the morning. He wanted me to draw a Christmas tree, which I did and which led to a brief discussion about why we don't have a Christmas tree, how I never had a tree when I was growing up. I couldn't figure out how to explain to his sweet four-year old mind that I came from a Jewish family that did not participate and why that was true. We also did not celebrate Hanukkah and that we were not religious in any way. When is it time to talk to kids about religion and god, or no god? I have no idea.
So I drew this tiny six-inch Christmas tree that Ian colored in. I also cut out a lovely little snowman from some holiday wrapping paper we have. Ian decided we should tape them both to the wall. I told him I could cut out little presents and tape them to the wall under the tree. He said no, we should get real presents and put them under there. Mmmm... that's not going to happen. He was content that we had this little Christmas tree.

We drove him home at noon to meet up with his mom. While we were there he and I were hanging out in his bedroom. He was showing me all the little treasures he has in his little treasure box. It was wonderful stuff. We talked about the planets he has taped to his ceiling, each arranged in a particular distance from the ceiling light, which of course is the sun. He loves celestial stuff. I love talking with him about it and showing him photos of atmospheric optics. While we were in there he asked me if I had a wedding ring. I told him I didn't. He seemed perplexed. He said, "You had your hands in your pocket. Maybe you put your ring in there. Empty your pockets." I laughed and emptied my pockets. "You don't have a wedding ring? Grandpa should have given you a ring." I told him that Grandpa and I are non-traditionalists. We don't always do the usual things. We like it that way. He looked at me like none of it made any sense. Someday he'll understand. It's a little like not having a Christmas tree.

Monday, December 03, 2018

The fault, dear Brutus... not in our stars, but in our very earth. Right here, incredibly close by. Last Thursday I was having a lovely conversation with my older brother Marc, the one who lives in Virginia on 80 acres grows his own veggies and raises his own beef. We were talking about something, probably politics when I said something about expecting an earthquake. Actually what I think I said was more like, "You know it's been quite a while since there's been a big earthquake. It's been too long. I wait for it. I think about it at least once day and a whole lot more." I'm always waiting.

So, you probably all know what happened the very next day. Yes, a big earthquake hit Anchorage, Alaska. No, we didn't feel it here at all, not in the visceral sense, but I got a good jolt thinking about it. When I was talking to Marc I was telling him how close we live to the San Andreas fault. We're not directly on it, but that faultline ends at Cape Mendocino which is about 20 miles south of us. For a fault, those 20 miles are irrelevant. When San Andreas shakes we're going to feel it. I also told him that I think about the Cascadia Subduction zone. I said it was off the coast of Washington and that it could cause a huge amount of damage here if it shifted.
Because I like to look at maps, I googled around to see one of the subduction zone. Oh wow. I was wrong. That bit of faultline actually extends all the way to... Cape Mendocino. Uh-oh. We are right on that one. It was a surprising bit of information to see that the San Andreas northern most edge is right on the Cascadia zone's southern most edge. That's where we live.

So, yes, I think about earthquakes. Interestingly, I'm not afraid. I participated in the most recent state earthquake preparedness test. At a certain time on a certain day, we were asked to find the safest location to get through a big quake. We used to stand in doorways, but nowadays we're told to hide under a table, away from windows, hold on to the legs of the table, protect your head and wait it out. Roger did not participate, but he did get a kick out of watching me under the table holding on for dear life for a long make-believe shaking minute!

Even though we know it could happen at any time, we don't have an earthquake preparedness kit filled with food or essential items. If one actually hit, we'd be gobsmacked in the moment. I do know where we'd hide, what happens after that I have no idea.

All of this makes me wonder if there is anything in your neck of the woods that you prepare for like this?

On Saturday Marc called me. He said, "Wow Rob, you predicted that one. Well done!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday: November in Photos

It's been a smoky and rainy November. I'm glad that it's almost over and we can move on to see what December brings. Here are a few things we saw right here on our street, well except for the vulture out at the marsh. This was our November.
Cheshire Moon
Berry leaf

Vulture looking at us

Smoky sunrise with geese

Sunrise with crepuscular rays and iridescent clouds

Hawk on the pole

Contrails in circles
Iridescent clouds around an open blue heart
I had just finished putting this post together, plugged the camera battery in and started charging it when the sun came out. So, I grabbed the iPhone and ran outside. This last photo is what I saw.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Judy Judy Judy

One of our favorite neighbors here was Judy. We met her when we bought the house in 2015 and had the most delightful conversations whenever our paths crossed, which was often. She loved to walk as much as we do, and we shared stories of our lives in those few minutes we stood on the street yakking away.

One day I told Judy that whenever we see her I do the Cary Grant line, "Judy Judy Judy." She told us that so many people have told her the same thing over the years. "Judy Judy Judy," she said was never uttered by Cary Grant. We were so surprised. Seriously, how could such an old "meme" that had lasted forever not be true?

So, when we got home from our walk I checked it out. Well, what a crazy surprise that turned out to be. Cary Grant never did say "Judy Judy Judy." I found this explanation of how it got started:
In several subsequent interviews with Grant, he expressed his bemusement over the phrase. In the 1980s, he said he thought "it started with a celebrity impersonator by the name of Larry Storch. He apparently was appearing in a nightclub and doing me when Judy Garland walked in. And, that's how he greeted her." Now, this phrase is a beloved movie line that was never spoken in a movie.
Of course the next time we ran into Judy I had to tell her what a surprise it was to learn the truth after all these years.

Judy loved to walk in the blustery gray weather we have here. She had lived here all of her life, and in fact was living on the same property her parents had when she was a child. She didn't like it warm and sunny and preferred cool days. 

We once passed Judy while she was out walking and we were driving by in our car. We waved at each other, grinning like little kids. The next time we saw her, she said, "I saw you cheating." I asked her what she meant. She laughed and moved her hands like they were on a steering wheel. We laughed and laughed.

We gave her homegrown kale, zucchini and yellow squash; she gave us a fake wasp nest to hang outside to help get rid of the real wasps that had a built a home in between the outer and inner wall of our house. She said it would scare them to think there was another wasp nest around. It didn't work, but it was worth a try.

The last time we saw Judy, just the other day, she was out with another neighbor fixing some bit of fencing at the edge of her property. We had a funny chat as always.

And yes that was the last time we would ever see Judy. We learned from another neighbor on Saturday that Judy died suddenly after suffering a heart attack on Thanksgiving day. We were blown away by the news. I thought about the weather that day. It was utterly gray and blustery, rainy and windy. Judy would have loved it. Perhaps it was the perfect day to make her sudden exit.

You just never know the last time you see someone it might really be the very last time. We bid you farewell, Judy Judy Judy.

PS-- I turned comments off. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Things Go Wrong

Sunday afternoon at the marsh
The skies are still smoky here, but we're supposed to get a whole lot of rain Tuesday night that will pour all the way through Thanksgiving weekend. It'll be good for clearing the smoke out of the skies, but it's going to make travel tough for all the people who will be heading out for family gatherings. We're not going anywhere, just going to wait this storm out at home.

My camera has a problem that is not repairable. See the smudge in the sky and one in the water in the above photo? It's not on the lens, it's somewhere in the camera that I can't get to. All my photos now have it. I had been able to use Photoshop to edit it out of the photos lately, but now Photoshop isn't working for me.

I got a new computer the other day, and for some reason my Photoshop CS6 won't let me use it anymore. I bought the application 2012 and when I try to use it it wants me to log in to Adobe and start a 30 day trial. I remember going through this with the program last year when I got a new computer then. Somehow I figured out how to find the serial # and fix it, but really I don't want to go through the long drawn out hassle anymore.
Saturday morning at sunrise fog and smoke
So, I'm going to buy a new camera. I'm not a photographer. I have a good eye but no actual skills when it comes to F-stops, focus, etc. So, it should be interesting to find something that will let me photograph clouds and halos, dragonflies and spiders, and sun and moon risings. I've heard that Nikon Coolpix 900 might be good for my level of know-nothingness, so I might head to the store to see if I can easily and comfortably hold one in my hands. I've also heard they're a bit big and heavy. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Also, any suggestions for photo editing programs would be great as well. What do you use to enhance your photos to make them look the way the scene looked to your eyes? I've been reading about something called GIMP. I may try it.

In the meantime, I'm going to use my smudgy camera and the Preview photo editing program that comes with my Apple laptop. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Smoky Skies

You've probably all read and heard about the fires in California. Lucky for us we are nowhere near them. But as it turns out that smoke does travel. On Tuesday we woke to lightly smoky skies. In the afternoon I looked out and saw this. It looks like a sunset sky, but it's not. It's the middle of the afternoon. Smoke and clouds sure do interesting things with the sun.

I had an entirely different post planned for today. I was going to write about the weather we've been having for the past few weeks. Stunning clear sunny days, starting with temps in the freezing range. The rooftops are laced in frost as are all the car windshields. The skies have been so clear we've been seeing Venus every morning shining so bright it literally sparkles. We've been doing our early morning walks wearing two layers of wool, flannel, gloves and hats before the sun has come up over the mountains. The Aleutian Cackling Geese have been flying over every morning, honking by the thousands. It's been going on for weeks. We stop and look up, wave to them and wish them a good journey. It's really quite a sound and sight. By afternoon, it's been so warm and sunny, we sit out on the little deck wearing tank tops and shorts. So Tuesday's smoky skies took us by surprise. We wonder how the geese feel about it. Crazy times here, crazy times.

Sunday, November 11, 2018



not intending to shock anyone. our blog helps us remember stuff.

cancer. i've had it. one colon cancer, cut out almost nine years ago. and now three kinds of skin cancer, basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma.

i have a great skin doc. actually he is a physicians assistant. some months ago he took a biopsy of a strange thing on my back, and then removed the basal cell carcinoma. it was a small incision requiring 3 stitches. i have gotten good at getting injections or iv needles but as he was finishing up i started to feel faint. he was good at keeping me talking and it all went ok.

two weeks ago he took a biopsy of another thing on my back. it was a melanoma, but the best kind. a melanoma in situ has not yet gone beyond the derma. he told me that it would be a longer and deeper excision than before. concerned about fainting, i asked my gp for lorazepam (atavan) and got one dose. amusingly enough my one small pill came in a larger bottle than 90 of my bp meds. and it cost 20 cents. oh well.

so 2 hours before my appt i swallowed my pill. i brought our iPhone with all our music to play my faves and distract me during the procedure. as the pa was preparing me he said he’d like to listen too. so i left off the earbuds. i was very relaxed and the time passed quickly.

now i have a three and a half inch incision held shut by twelve stitches. i tried to take a picture of the piece he removed from me but my fuzzy brain couldn’t work the iPhone camera and i got a fuzzy picture.

i am lucky though. we have several family members and friends suffering from much more serious ailments.

i asked for a picture of the incision. not sure if the melanoma has been cut out yet
an out of focus picture of the thing.
see how relaxed i am

all done and healing

Monday, November 05, 2018

A Carrion Eater's Meal

A little story before tomorrow's election, completely irrelevant and non-political. Perhaps a sigh of relief, and a view of the future.
One of these could be Lew
For the past few months whenever I see vultures flying overhead I look up and say, "Is that you, Lew?" It's my new mantra. Why on earth would I say such a thing? Well, I'm glad you asked. I was reading about some of the old beat poets from back in the day and it made me want to read some of Philip Whalen's and Lew Welch's poems and bios. They were both college roommates of Gary Snyder's at Reed College in Oregon in the late 1940s. The three of them went on to write poetry, and Philip and Gary studied Zen Buddhism at the Zhodo Shinsu Buddhist Church in Berkeley. Philip went on to become a Buddhist monk. I was drawn to their poetry because I tend to like words written with an undercurrent of zen perspective.

Reading their bios reminded me that back in May of 1971 Lew Welch, while visiting with Gary Snyder, walked off into the woods at his Kitkitdizzi ranch in the Sierras and never returned. He left a suicide note and took only a .22 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver. His body was never found. When I re-read some of his poems, like these last few lines he wrote in his poem "Chicago"...

You can’t fix it. You can’t make it go away.
     I don’t know what you’re going to do about it,
But I know what I’m going to do about it. I’m just
     going to walk away from it. Maybe
A small part of it will die if I’m not around
      feeding it anymore.
...I wondered if it was a foreshadowing of his death. He was writing about leaving the oppressive polluted over-worked factory life of Chicago in the 1950s, but all these years later, it seems prescient. And the poem eerily describes our deadly carbon footprint on the planet that we are all facing now.

So while I was reading about Lew a couple of months ago, I found a story about how his friends responded to his utter and complete disappearance. Whenever they saw a vulture circling overhead they would look up and say, "Is that you, Lew?" I loved it. I wanted to keep the tradition going. We'll all be circling in the belly of the carrion eater someday. So let's look up and wave hello.

PS-- If you don't read anything about Lew Welch on Wikipedia, here's a surprising bit of history. He had a common-law relationship with Polish refuge Maria Magda Cregg. He acted as the stepfather to her son Hugh Anthony Cregg, III, better known by his stage-name Huey Lewis. He took the name Lewis in honor of Lew.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Breaking A Promise

Laughing at the news November 2017
Before my mother's diagnosis of Alzheimer's in January 2017, she told me that she knew that she would not be around forever and that she wanted me to keep her informed even after her death. She knew I kept a journal that I started back in 1992 when my father was approaching his final days. I wrote in it all the time to tell him the stories of our family, our country, our world. My mom wanted me to do the same for her. When I wrote in the journal for the past 26 years, the pages always started "Dear Dad." Now they start, "Dear Parents..." I love keeping this promise and it keeping their hearts alive in my own. (When my sibs and I were teenagers we began referring to our parents in the collective noun "parents" rather than mom and dad. It stuck!)

My mother loved reading the news. For all the years she lived in southern California she had the LA Times delivered to her house and then to the assisted living facility. She always started the day with a newspaper. When she lived here with us for four months she got the NY Times delivered, and then when she moved back to southern California, she resumed her LA Times subscription. She never watched news on TV. She read it, absorbed it, talked about it, laughed and grieved about it.

Now for the first time, I feel like not sharing the news with my parents. I can't bear to tell them the stories of what's happening in our country. A week of pipe bombs sent to people my mother absolutely appreciated, and then eleven people shot at a synagogue in Pittsburgh at a Briss. They would find all of this as unbearable and horrific, as we do. They would be afraid for our country and really the world, as we are. There is no making sense of the senseless. Our country has become a place of crazy gun owners who still resent the outcome of the Civil War and who seem to have forgotten that World War II was fought to end the reign of Nazis. We have a President who stokes the these flames with his astonishing ignorance and narcissism. He is so utterly unworthy of his position that the world is watching us aghast at what is unfolding here.

A paragraph from Howard Fineman's op-ed in the New York Times sums up the status of things right now:
My response is grief, of course, and the immediate realization that this horror is part of a larger pattern of mayhem and hatred in America and around the world. Churches, minority communities, gay nightclubs, politicians and journalists are threatened. We live in an age of assault rifles, pipe bombs and bone saws.
So I am going to renege a bit on my promise to my mom. I'm keeping the latest news cycle a secret. I want to share much better news after the midterms. We are hoping for a blue wave because truly what's left of our sanity depends on it.

How are you doing? 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Just A Story of Kindness

It's been crazy foggy here for days. We went from stunningly awesome clear blue skies to a bleak darkness that just won't quit. So, there are no photos to post. We just have a simple story of kindness to tell. 

We shop at the local food co-op all the time. It's walking distance from our house, a nice little two-mile round trip. We like to go on Tuesdays because it's senior discount day. Such a funny thing to be "seniors" and yet we are. We often call it Geezer Day and have a good laugh about it. We run into the same people shopping, those of us of a certain age who shop early in the day. We say hello as we all fill our little bags with organic bulk items.

Last Tuesday we were waiting in the checkout line, and one of the familiar old geezer seniors was ahead of us. He was buying a lot of stuff, so we waited and waited. Then, when it came time to pay for his groceries, he pulled out his checkbook, signed a check, and then handed it to the cashier. The cashier then proceeded to fill out all the pertinent stuff and then entered the data in the check register. He showed the check to the customer who approved. When they were finished, the customer turned to us and thanked us for being patient. We said it was fine (even though we are really the most impatient people to walk this earth!). Then the cashier checked us out, and within minutes we were walking home.

When I thought about it over the next few days, I really wanted to thank the cashier for such a thoughtful act of kindness. So, on Sunday when we saw him again, I told him how wonderful it was to see such a thing. He told us that that customer always checks out in his line and that he's been writing the checks for him for a while. He said the man had had a minor stroke and things were not as easy as they once were for him. He told us that the man was a long-time musician in the area and was actually quite well known. And then he shared this story. Back in the 1960s the old man was a musician in Santa Cruz. He was hanging out with Jerry Garcia back in the day. On Saturdays Jerry would go with him to his mom's house for a nice home-cooked meal. We loved hearing that story so much. It made me think that the next time we see the old man, I'm going to introduce myself and shake his hand. Because you know me, I collect handshakes!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Earth's Shadow

For my friends here who didn't already see my post on Facebook. Our beautiful Earth's shadow and the Belt of Venus.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Ground Fog In The Early Morning

We like to get out for our first walk of the day pretty early. Lately we've been out there before the sun has even come up over the coast range. There's plenty of light, but still pretty chilly in the crisp fall air. It has been incredibly clear and beautiful. Not much in the way of colorful sunrises at all, but the past few morning we've noticed a lovely low fog drifting in the cow pastures.

This is what it looked like Friday morning looking north before sunrise. The sky has a bit of that pink Belt of Venus look.

Saturday morning on the longer neighborhood walk, looking west toward the ocean. In each of the fields and pastures we pass, there is a low fog generated by that field.
Here it drifted across a little road. This view is also looking west toward the ocean.
As we headed back looking eastward, this fog was drifting across the road from the field on the right.
On Sunday there was both a low fog and a higher fog blowing in. The light was lovely.

So, after three mornings of beautiful fog, I thought I should google around and see just what makes this ground fog happen. Here is one explanation.
Radiation fog is the most common type of fog. It is formed when heat from the surface radiates back to space at night, cooling air near the surface to saturation and producing fog. To get radiation fog, you need clear skies and cooling, moisture in the air (a wet ground really helps), and light winds. Light winds help mix this cool, saturated air to higher levels in the atmosphere, creating a deeper layer of fog.
Most fog reaches a few hundred meters up, but sometimes radiation fog doesn’t even hit above the knee. If winds are calm, there is no mixing of the atmosphere and the saturated air at the immediate surface is stagnant, leaving a very thin layer of fog at the ground. This type of fog is called ground fog, and it is a specific type of radiation fog.
I love learning something new. Radiation fog. I had no idea! We think it would be a great name for Fox News. This is how we are amusing ourselves while we figure out how to live in the dystopia that has become our country.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Art on the Plaza

On the first Saturday in October local artists come to the downtown plaza and transform the sidewalks into huge works of art with chalk. We walked down there on Monday to see it in a quiet time. Here is a bit of what we saw and a local news piece about it. It's quite a colorful and beautiful sight.

We love when the community gets together like this.

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Times We Are Living In

It seems we spent all of our outrage before the vote to confirm Kavanaugh actually happened. So, when it did happen, it was simply a meh moment. All the tears had been cried; all the shouting had finally left us quietly muted. We do wonder who we are as a country and what we have become. We know that there really no answers to those questions. Someone is jubilant. Someone is weeping. This broken country we call home has a gulf that cannot be bridged. This has been true a very long time.
We have no idea what comes next. I was thinking that I would have to put the blog on hiatus because our anguish and grief will overtake everything. Who needs all that crying and shouting here? But then I thought maybe we could all just take a deep breath and work out a plan on how to stay sane while we hope for a blue tide this November.

I can't express what it is like to have the President of this country actually say, "...You don't hand matches to an arsonist, and you don't give power to an angry left-wing mob." How do we survive this craziness? For all of our friends who live outside of the United States, we wonder, what do we look like to you? Are you afraid for us? Are you afraid of what he might actually do next?

So, while we wait we do our usual stuff. We go for walks. We read very little news. We don't have cable TV, so there's none of that constant hum of insanity. We even stopped watching the PBS News Hour. Is this a good plan of action? Looking away from it all. What are you doing?

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday

I asked my sister if Senator Jeff Flake reminded her of anyone. She started to laugh. She said, "Do you mean Dad?" I yelled, "Yes! You see it too!" I wanted to send this photo to the Senator, but as it turns out, it's very hard to send photos to Senators. Understandable. But here he is, my father --
We have no idea what it is about Senator Flake that reminds us of our dearly-loved father, but something  definitely does.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

End Of September Photos

It's been a while since I compiled a few photos that we haven't shared here yet. It's always fun to take a look back and see what we had already forgotten. The sunlight lit it all up for us.

This last photo is Roger at the top of Trinidad Head. We hiked up there on the day we went to scatter roses in the harbor for my mom on her birthday. After the foggy summer we had, it was delightful to have a month of light. And now rain is in the forecast already. Looking forward to rainbows!