Monday, April 30, 2018

We Are Home

We are home. Now I don't have to worry anymore about being stuck in southern California during and after an earthquake. Having been in two of California's big earthquakes (Sylmar and Loma Prieta) it's one of the persistent fears I have whenever we are traveling. An earthquake would be horrible in that crazy over-populated chaotic traffic-jammed highway of a place even on a good day. I also think about earthquakes whenever we drive through the Gaviota Tunnel. I quietly chant to myself, "please don't shake, please don't shake" while we are driving through, and on the other side I'm grinning from ear to ear. We made it!

We are home. After 17 days on the road, we pulled into our garage with The Beatles singing "The Long and Winding Road." It just worked out that way on the playlist of "L" songs, and it was perfect. We used to be younger, when long and winding roads didn't completely wipe us out and make our backs hurt. This aging stuff takes some getting used to. We're starting to think about no more long trips, or at least breaking them up the way we did on our journey home from the beach house. We stayed at our very first airbnb in the pleasant little town of Ukiah. It was a nice way to break up the trip, and there was a full kitchen. So we could cook, if you call turning on the oven and putting in a frozen organic veggie pizza cooking. Still, it was so lovely to have a quiet night to ourselves.

We are home. The front and back gardens need so much weeding. Our rain gauge showed that we had gotten 5 inches (12.7 cm) of rain while we were gone. The weeds and every green thing in the yard loved it. But sadly the dahlias suffered from our absence. We weren't here to protect their new leaves from the onslaught of slug and sow bug hunger the way we did last year. So now we are trying to make up for lost time. We're hoping they will bloom again this year.
We are home. We are taking our early morning neighborhood walks. The weather has been quite rainy since Thursday. We haven't even had a chance to get out to the marsh yet to take a look around at the spring flowers and birds there. We're planning to go on Monday when the weather promises to be sunny. We did get a burst of bright sunlight on Friday, so I ran out to see if there was a rainbow, and yes...yes there was. I was so glad.

We are home.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Still On The Road

We've been on the road since April 9th, and for a bunch of homebodies like us, that's a crazy long time. Several months ago Roger contacted his far-flung siblings and suggested a long overdue family reunion. It had been six years since they were all together. So, we booked the family beach house for the week of April 21st. We didn't know then that we were going to be at my mom's memorial on the 14th, so what started out as a plan for family fun suddenly had to be extended for other sad journeys.
The upside of driving back from the southern part of the journey was the ride through the rich green spring time of California's lush productive valleys. The breathtaking skies and rolling hills were a heart-soothing balance to the heartbreak of memorials, a necessary reminder of all that is still and always beautiful.

My twin brother traveled the same highway north after the memorial and was also renewed by the views of our rich earth. He photographed this on his way home.
On our way north we stopped and spent the night in Pismo Beach, a lovely quiet little town on the central coast. The hillsides were bright yellow against the blue skies.
We don't often stay in hotels, but we decided to just have a quiet night before the reunion began. The hotel we stayed in was right at the beach, so of course we ventured down to take a look around. That's when we noticed this.
We had never seen such crazy white stone before. I thought it might be erosion repair work, but it wasn't. It was actual rocky cliff face. So, of course I had to google around to find out what we were looking at. Turns out it's called tuff, a light, porous rock formed by consolidation of volcanic ash. I found one website that described the formation:
Pick up a small piece lying on the beach and crush it in your hand. Notice how powdery it is, and if you look very closely at the individual grains, you'll notice that they are angular. This rock is a tuff. It was made from ancient volcanic ash that landed on the ocean and settled to the bottom building up over many years. This ash was eventually buried to depths sufficient to produce temperatures and pressures necessary to petrify it into the tuff, was later uplifted, and the erosion exposed it for us to see today. There was enough ash generated to ultimately create tuff hundreds of feet thick in this area.
I wish I had picked up some pieces of this tuff stuff. I didn't. But I did photograph a large rock of it that had broken off.
The next day we headed north to the reunion, where we still are as I type this. We're staying until Wednesday, and then begin the long drive home. It's been quite a journey. We're tired, but seeing the beauty of our earth is our way of healing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: One Month Gone

Memory Board 1 at the Memorial

Memory Board 2

Monday, April 09, 2018

Fence Art and Sky Hearts

We've been getting ready for our long journey south for my mom's memorial. So much to do, photographs to gather for the poster memory board we're going to put together. It's heart tugging in every way.

Here is something we've been working on for distraction. Roger and I started on this project back in mid March. We have a lot of old fence boards that he thought would make a lovely dragonfly for the fence art project. I thought so too. So he cut the boards and laid them out. As soon as I saw it I wondered about adding some of the flat marbles we've found in the yard and around the house here. We think they're from the bottom of vases of flowers, and mostly get discarded at the end of the flower splendors. So we gathered them and tried this:
After Roger cut the wood, and we laid the marbles on it to see how it would look, I thought I should google around about mosaic and wood. That's when we learned that it's not a good idea at all for outside art because wood expands and contracts in the weather. All those marbles will fall right off. We tested it with a piece of wood and some other pieces of marble, two kinds of very strong glue. And guess what? After all the rainy weather, the marbles do fall right off. So, we may just make this for someplace inside the house. It really was fun to put it together. I could see us trying other projects in the future.
In the mean time Roger did make a heart and a peace sign from a barrel metal hoop. We're starting to really like adding stuff to the fence.

Sometimes the clouds will lift our spirits with shapes like this.

If you keep looking up you can see heart signs and be reassured by the beauty of our skies. Life goes on and there are miles and miles of travel ahead.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Starlings In The Wall

Roger heard something and I tried hard to hear it too. Nothing. He got up and walked over to the wall in our bedroom, put his ear to it and whispered, "There's something in this wall... maybe a critter... some dripping water.. I don't know what, but I hear it." I went outside to listen. That's when I heard it too. Something was definitely making noise in the space between the exterior and interior wall of our bedroom. While we were in the yard, wondering out loud about what was going on, it flew out. A starling. Well, we were relieved it wasn't a mouse or a rat, but not sure what we should do about a starling building a nice spring time nest in there. I looked down at the ground and saw the remnants of the wire screen vent in the eaves there. Bummer. Those birds had found a way in and made it even better for themselves.
We tend to have a "live and let live" attitude about most things, and most especially about birds. But we seriously wondered about having a non-native species like a starling in there. What kind of trouble would be enabling? So, I wrote a dear friend who is a true birder and asked her. This was her response.
1. Introduced species. 2. Keeps a very, very filthy nest. Hauls in a lot of material (fire hazard) and toward the end of the nestling period allows the babies to defecate freely in it. Think stinking, soggy mess that I wouldn't touch without rubber gloves on. So there's that. But 3. often has chicken mites. Chicken mites are very bad medicine. They infest the nest and will come through the walls and infest you...wait until you see the pair outside together and wire that space off. They still have plenty of time to start another nest elsewhere. (PS-- this is slightly edited)
So, Roger went out and got the ladder to measure the space that he needed to cover. When he had the right piece ready, we made sure the birds were out. We banged on the wall, we talked, shouted, waited, banged some more, talked some more. They were definitely gone. He covered the space. We agreed that if we heard any sound from in there, he would open it up and wait til that bird left. But we never heard a single sound again. We were so relieved to say good bye to those birds. It's a good thing one of us still has good hearing. Yikes!
We're still taking our early morning walks, trying to tip the scales toward beauty and away from grief and sadness. A city sunrise is a good beginning. Working on tipping the scales everyday as we plan our trip south for my mom's memorial and Roger's family reunion. Life goes on... life goes on. Sigh.