Monday, July 30, 2018

Memories, Part 1 The City 1952-60

Last Monday my older brother sent an email to his three siblings reminding us that July 23 was the 58th anniversary of our family's move to the suburbs from the big city of Newark. My  parents had bought a split-level 3 bedroom house, and we began a new phase of our lives. My older brother was 11, my twin brother and I were 8, and my sister was 6. It was a whole new world.

Before we went to that new world, the first eight years of my life (1952-1960) were spent in the first floor apartment of this three story apartment building. We had the apartment on the left. (I added those yellow arrows to point to the apartment we were in.) There was a vacant lot where the smaller home next to it is now. We had a two-bedroom apartment. My parents had one bedroom, and my three siblings and I shared the other. My sister and I slept in one bed, my brothers slept in another. That was life for us. Upstairs on the third floor my maternal aunt, uncle and cousins lived. It was fun to have family there. One year, when my twin and I were maybe four years old my mom sent us upstairs to return some scissors. On the way, Michael cut my hair, and let's just say he didn't do a great job!

My dad was self-employed and woke up every morning at 3:00 am to drive into New York to buy cases of fresh fruits and vegetables and then drive back to Newark to sell them to the small groceries that were everywhere back then. It was long before the giant Safeways and ShopRites. Everything was mom and pop. I would wake up every morning at 3:00 and sit with him while he was having his breakfast. He wanted me to go back to bed, but I wanted to sit with him. I would walk him to the door and then I would go to those front windows and watch him drive away down the dark streets. After that I climbed into bed with my mom and went back to sleep.

When I was five, my twin brother and I went to kindergarten. My parents had arranged with the school for us to be in separate classrooms. They didn't want us competing with each other; they wanted us to have separate lives. That was pretty traumatic for me. I don't think I had ever been away from my womb-mate for so long. I was inconsolable. So the teachers decided to open the doors between the classrooms so we could see each other. It was enough for me just to be able to see his face and wave. I could concentrate on learning whatever it was they were teaching me between nap times!

When my sister started kindergarten my mom went back to work. She was the office manager for a cardiologist. After school we stayed with my grandmother while my father napped. He slept every afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm, so he had enough zzzs to be ready for his 3:00 am wake up call. He cooked dinner for the family every week night.

There was a candy store on the corner that had a counter with round luncheonette stool chairs, pool tables where 1950s punk guys came to play, packs of cigarettes rolled in their tee-shirt sleeves and cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. It was quite the scene. 

Another memory that I can never forget is the time a neighbor who lived in the apartment building above that candy store drew some crosses on the sidewalk. Being Jewish, I hadn't ever really seen or noticed such a thing before. I asked her what it was. She told me the story as best a seven-year old could tell a five-year old what a cross was and who Jesus was. I was devastated. I had to go home and lay down in bed. I had never heard such a thing in my life, someone nailed to a cross. It was then I realized that humans could be more horrible to each other than I had ever imagined. I never forgot.

There were other good memories. We could walk to my maternal grandmother's apartment. We had family everywhere. There was a park where we watched bike races. We learned to ride bicycles. We went to the zoo. We played hopscotch on those sidewalks. We could hear music on the weekends from the bar down the street. We knew our neighbors. It was incredibly ethnically diverse. We learned every summer why New Jersey was called the Garden State. We had fresh corn that was"as sweet as sugar" my father would say.

That was life in the city for me. We were a family of six living in a two bedroom apartment. Then we moved to the suburbs. I will write that story soon.

PS-- The reason I'm writing this is because we sometimes make assumptions about people's lives without knowing really a single thing about them, except for what they write on their blogs and the pretty pictures they take. We have all lived long lives before these internet ones.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Walking The Neighborhood Walk

In an effort to maintain what little sanity we have left, we keep walking and walking and walking. Sunday was a five mile day. Still, even when we're out walking our neighborhood loop, seeing skies like this...
...with the hint of a halo and view that goes on forever, we still scream about Trump and what he is doing every freakin' time he opens his idiotic mouth. We say, "Wow aren't those clouds lovely? Did you see what that jerk said today about FISC (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court)?"
We walk on and I stop to photograph the thistle entwined in the barbed wired. It reminds me of reading the news and hearing all the stories, the things that jab us and stick us and make us cringe in pain at the insanity of the times we are living in. 

We keep on walking and see the Alpacas. They always ignore us, but we always shout hello to them...

...I also always say to them, "Beware of humans. Listen to me, beware of humans." I shout that to the cows as well. We are as crazy and stupid as you think. Did you see who the president is? 

We are seriously living in unbelievable times. Are your stress management exercises working?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Minus Tide At Houda Cove

We had been planning to drive 10 miles north on Friday the 13th for an early morning walk during a -2.0 tide at Houda Cove. The lowest tide of the day was at 6:30 am, and we were ready. But when we opened the blinds and saw how low the fog was here two miles in from the coast, we knew it would be crazy to head out. We wouldn't be able to see a thing out there. So we waited for Saturday morning when the tide was still a -2.0 and at a more reasonable hour of 7:30 am. We woke Saturday morning to the clearest skies we've seen for a while. We got our stuff ready-- tea and toast, kibble for Harold who we planned to feed before we headed for the short drive north. Then we looked out the window again... oh no... the fog was blowing back in. We thought about it and decided to go anyway, and we are so glad we did. This is what we saw when we arrived. The hint of fog made for wonderful optics, and the blue sky over the Pacific was perfect.
The beach was still in the dark shadows of the hillside. We walked down the long stairway,  headed toward the ocean and then turned around to look where the sun was just coming up over the hill.

This is what we saw,  a beautiful view of crepuscular rays lighting up the beach there. What a grand start to the day! We met a woman who was looking at the rays as well. She asked us if we were planning on going into the cave that's only approachable at minus tides. We said, "No way! We've watched the videos of the kids trapped in the cave in Thailand. No no no!" She said, "It's only 60 feet deep and worth the trip. Mmm... we wondered, should we do it? So of course we did. It was pretty interesting in there.
Roger at the back of the cave photographing me walking out
There was lots of sea life on the walls, particularly close to the opening. Here I am walking back into the light.
We walked north on the beach for a while and the sun continued to light the beach in the most beautiful way.
And in every direction the views were grand.
 This is the rock that has the cave. It's nice to see it from the outside too!

We spent quite a while out there-- breathing in the ocean air, walking, laughing, and skipping over water flowing into the ocean. And for a little while the whole world was just this, and it was perfect.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

the bums go to the beach

we went to mad river county park, hoping to see the rivermouth and some seals. i think that the rivermouth must have been near when the park was made. now the river parallels the beach going north, where the ocean relentlessly pushes it.

endless waves

himself looking for the river mouth. there is a sliver of the river visible to the right.

the area

we had thought to walk north from the parking lot on a trail closer to the river and return along the shore. when we couldn't find the trail at the parking lot we struck off across the dunes to the beach, turned north and walked happily looking out at the ocean waves pictured above and relaxing in their calming low rushing sound. we explored inland toward the river about a mile up the beach. grassy tufts, sand, minor dunes, low scrub brush, no trail. so returned to the beach and strolled on back to the trail through the dunes to the car. actually the most tiring part of the walk, on soft sand.

when we lived in arcata 10 years ago we would park at the end of murray road (see map above) and walk down along the river to see its mouth right there.

here is a bit of interesting history of the mad river. i wonder if the diversion of water to the canal (use the link. read the short informative article) started the rivermouth on its journey north.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Great Egret Rookery

We drive by a Great Egret rookery whenever we head into the city of Eureka. We drive over the 255 bridge that crosses Humboldt Bay. There are NO PARKING signs posted everywhere, so we can't ever stop to take a photo of them, but we have been admiring them for the past four years. I can't tell you the number of times I've tried to photograph them from the car when we're zooming by. I know you know that does not work at all. When we were at the Family United rally last Saturday I noticed that I could see the rookery from the waterfront there. It's pretty far away, but definitely visible. So, we went back on Tuesday to get a better look.
To give you some idea of how far away this rookery is from the waterfront. Here's a perspective for you.
Beyond the boats and the statue on Woodley Island is Indian Island where the Monterey Cypress trees stand. On those trees is the rookery. Beyond the rookery is the bridge we drive over to get into town. It would be grand to get a photo from the bridge, but that's a no-no. I did find an article in a local newspaper from 2011 that talked about the history of the rookery, and the non-native trees the egrets have been using for more than a hundred years!
On a beautiful summer day it really is lovely at the waterfront. And with a good zoom I can also get a nice close-up the Fisherman statue.
Lots of fishing, crabbing, and oyster production been going on here for a long, long time. No wonder the egrets love it.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Signs of the Times

It's been almost 50 years since I marched in protest. The last significant march I participated in was in Washington DC on May 10, 1970. That day 100,000 people marched to protest the shooting of four people by the National Guard on the Kent State campus in Ohio. My siblings and I drove from New Jersey to participate. We had marched many times before then, throughout the late 60s protesting the war in Vietnam. Some of those marches were local, some were big and loud on the streets of Newark. I remember the ride home from that Washington DC Kent State protest. The world had changed, it seemed. I was just about to turn 18 years old and graduate from high school. My family was getting ready to move to California in June. We were leaving the old world behind and heading west to make a new life. My marching days were over...
Roger and one of the other early marchers!
...until this past weekend. On June 30th Roger and I went to a Families Belong Together rally and march in Eureka. We arrived early, forgetting in a way that we live in an unpopulated part of the world and that there would be plenty of parking for everyone. When we got there it was mostly quiet except for the organizers and some musicians singing some fine old folk tunes. It would be a good half hour before 1500 more people showed up with the signs of the times.
We saw so many wonderful homemade signs. It was grand to be out there with our fellow citizens.

There were speakers who told stories of incarceration, of ICE harassment, of family separations. A representative of our Congressman's office spoke. Then, we were ready to march the streets of Eureka!
Lucky for us the rally was held at the beautiful waterfront there. So, as we marched we saw got to breathe the beautiful sea air before we headed on to the streets.

The local newspaper reported that we were three blocks long of chanting impassioned protesters. The front of the march was so far ahead of us, we didn't even hear what they were chanting.

We marched. We shouted. We were glad to add our voices to the sum of voices for humanity and sanity. It felt good to march again after all these years.