Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Just A Moment

Out for our first walk of the day, looking south a half hour after sunrise. The low radiation fog just coming up from the rain soaked pasture. A truck zooms on the two lane road between us and the bay and the mountains and the sky. An ordinary day begins. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Other Side Of The Fence

Lately when we've been out walking I've been drawn to these plants and flowers that show such persistence in their search for the light of the sun.
Or maybe they're just winding their way and suddenly find themselves on the other side of their world.
They get such a different view of life.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Packed With Surprises

We were walking our favorite trail at the marsh the other day and noticed a man carrying a very interesting looking pack. From where I was standing, it looked like an unusual pack with a lovely picture of birds on it. That's when I noticed that the birds actually moved. So I photographed it.

He and his partner came up to the trail and told us that this is a "cat pack" that people often buy to bring their cats out on walks with them. So, they bought one to bring their birds out on their walks. They had tried taking the birds out one at a time on a leash, but preferred this so the birds could be together.
He told us that all animals like to have an opportunity to be outside and have a look around. They really enjoy the view. We told him that we really enjoyed this view as well.

I think those birds are going to learn how to talk, and they're new song will be, "Take us to the marsh! Take us to the marsh!"

We do get to see the most interesting and surprising things sometimes.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Dorian Reminded Me

I hadn't thought about this in so many years, but the news about Hurricane Dorian reminded me of the one night in Boulder, Colorado January 1982 when my then-husband and I  experienced  Chinook Wind. This is how NOAA describes the event:
Chinook winds are downsloping, warm, and dry winds that occur on the leeward, or sheltered, side of mountain ranges, such as the Rocky Mountains. Chinook winds are fairly common during the winter months and often bring extreme increases in temperatures to the region as they move from west to east across the mountains. While these winds bring warmer temperatures during the winter months, they can often be devastating, with sustained winds and gusts sometimes as strong as those produced by tornadoes and hurricanes.
On January 17, there were numerous reports of peak wind gusts in excess of 100 mph in the area. NOAA’s Environmental Research Laboratory, now known as Earth System Research Laboratory (ERSL), measured a 118-mph gust on its roof before the power failed. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) at Table Mesa in southwest Boulder recorded a maximum wind gust of 137 mph just after 2:00 a.m. MST on the roof, 600 feet above the city. During the second high-wind period, NCAR recorded a 130 mph gust. In all, 20 gusts of over 120 mph were clocked at NCAR between 1:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. MST.
Boulder bore the brunt of the damage during the January 17 windstorm, which was one of the worst in the area’s recorded history. An estimated 40% of all buildings in Boulder suffered at least minor damage between the night of January 16 and the morning of January 17; about 50 homes were damaged badly enough to be uninhabitable. In one instance, a gust completely unroofed a home, with the roof sailing over two adjacent houses before landing on a third. The winds also hit the Boulder Municipal Airport especially hard, destroying about 20 small planes. Several utility poles snapped, and thousands of electricity customers were without power. The wind also caused erosion damage to about 50,000 acres of farmland in Boulder County.
We were wakened by the roaring sound of something we could only describe as a train barreling through our little house. It was 2:00 am, and the sound went on and on. We had no idea what was happening, but got out of bed trying to figure out if we were safe. All night long the wind blew with that sound.

In the morning we got in our little Volkswagen Rabbit and went out to take a look at what had happened. The damage had the equivalence of an EF2 tornado and was evident everywhere we looked. This is some of what we saw and photographed.

It reminded me of an earthquake, that unbelievable moment when where you happen to be changes in a radical instant without warning. We were lucky that there was no damage to our little rental. We could resume our regular lives having experienced something that was truly unforgettable. To think about the people of the Bahamas and what they endured for more than 40 hours is truly unimaginable.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

What We Did Instead

We had planned to walk into town on Monday for the annual block party. It's quite a festive event with music, food, art, and a silent auction. But for some reason when it was time, we decided to go to the marsh instead where it's quiet and the air is cool with bay breezes.

We've been out to the marsh a few times in the past couple of weeks and I haven't taken  a single photo. Not one. It's still a nice place to walk even when nothing calls to me to grab my camera. So I was truly surprised and delighted to find a few things that called my attention.

Here's what we saw in our hour-long walk out there. First thing to call my attention was this Marbled Godwit. There were lots of them out there looking for food in the incoming tide.
We walked farther on along the rocky path and this dragonfly caught my eye. The wings flashed white in the afternoon light. I liked how it blended in with the stones.

Then the river otters popped up in one of the ponds. The fish were jumping like mad, and the otters were hunting for their lunch. I really think they were looking at me and trying to convey their discontent with my annoying presence.

We were most happy to see the Brown Pelicans. We hadn't seen them in more than a year, and it occurred to us that we hadn't even seen any the last time we were in Capitola in March. So seeing pelicans was such a good sign. (They had twice been driven nearly to extinction and were saved by the Endangered Species Act.)
 But it was this moment that made my day. I shouted a thank you to this bird for posing like this.

While I was reading about Brown Pelicans, I learned that this is called a Head Throw -- "it occurs when a pelican throws its head up and back, way way back! The head throw is thought to be a way for the pelican to stretch the skin of its gular pouch — its throat — in order to maintain its flexibility and health..." I love learning something new like this. 

Oh yes, we were glad that we had decided to head out to the marsh!

Friday, August 30, 2019

When The News Hits Home

I found this google image of the old apartment building my family lived in in Newark, NJ in the 1950s, when I was writing my memories of growing up and posting the old stories here on the blog last year.
I've been thinking about this old apartment building again ever since I read the news that Newark, NJ has a serious lead pipe water problem. It made me wonder if my siblings and I were exposed to lead during our childhood years. We lived in that apartment until I was 8 years old.

So I went to the city website and put in the address to see what it said about the water there. Uh-oh. This came up.
If you don't click on the pic, here's what it says: Our records show that this residence has a lead service line, was built before 1986, and is connected to the Pequannock system. The city recommends you pick up a filter from a distribution center and register for the Lead Service Replacement Program.

So my siblings and I are wondering what the effects of lead are that may still have an impact on our bodies all these many, many years later. I think there really is no way to know. It just is a little bit unnerving to know that 60 years ago we were drinking water out of lead pipes. Let me just say here, UGH.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

An Old Post Revisited

I called my cousin Donna on Tuesday to wish her a Happy Birthday on her 70th trip around the sun. She asked me if I still had any of the old photos of us when we were young. So I looked around on my computer and on the blog. I found this old post. That's Donna standing next to the carriage and my older brother behind it. My twin and I were probably two year olds in this photo. I first posted this on August 20, 2007. Rereading it really touched me, especially the reference to the August light. Here we are in the August light again, and I am ever so much still that little girl wanting to know it all.

I keep coming back to this story in my life. I start to tell it here on the blog, but then give up every time. I want to describe this moment that seemed to change everything, but really changed nothing at all. It was just a moment...

When I was maybe eleven or twelve, my older brother played Senior League baseball. He loved sports and was very competitive. I was not a sports kid at all, and did not really like competition. In fact when my siblings got together to play a card game or a board game, I would always opt out, and they would sing to me: Every party has a pooper that's why we invited you, party pooper. Yup, that was their anthem for me. Ms Party Pooper. Maybe I've already told you all of this before, I can't remember. But this is about a story about a different memory, so I'll get back to it.

My older brother played baseball on long summer days in New Jersey. The whole family would go out to the field to watch him. He was a good ballplayer. We did a lot of things together as a family. We went bowling, or to Asbury Park, or out to dinner at Snuffy's. It was that era in the suburbs when we knew all of our neighbors, and we felt safe to be on the streets day or night. We played lots of different games, some that we made up, like treasure hunts or Baby Face Nelson and the gun moll (that would be me, of course). We put on plays, and played many games of pretend. I liked those the best.

Yet, as all siblings do, we each revolved in our own orbits. I wrote secret poems, and love songs to The Beatles. My twin brother had a paper route and wanted to be a drummer. My sweet little sister followed me around, hoping to catch up to be my age. My older brother played sports and went out on dates with girls. We lived under the same roof, four suburban kids in 1964.

I think it must be the August light that reminds me of this moment, but one August day in that long ago summer, I remember walking into our suburban home and seeing my older brother sitting in the white, curved family-room chair. He was wearing his baseball uniform and was talking animatedly about the game he'd just played. I stared at him for a long time, trying to understand what it was that made him my brother. How is it that this person and I are related as siblings? Who are we? Who would we have been if my mother had not married our father, or our father had married someone else? I found it exhilarating to consider the unique way we were connected. I stared at him, suddenly aware of our cells and how alike they must be. It made me feel closer to him than I ever had in my life. And strangely, at that moment, I felt a kinship with all humans. If my brother and I were this closely related, I wondered who else was I distantly related to; and wasn't I, if I could just trace back in time, related to everyone? How could it be otherwise, my 12-year old mind wanted to know.

That was the moment.

I wanted to break open all the rocks in the yard and look for fossils. I wanted to see the world through a microscope and telescope at same time. I suddenly wanted to understand everything all at once.

When I came back from that long stare, I saw that I was just looking at my older brother in his baseball uniform telling a story. I was just a girl who was giddy about the poetry of life.

Still am.

Do you have a moment that turned on the light switch to the world?

Photograph: Older brother behind the stroller, my twin brother and I being the Buddha twins, and cousin Donna hanging out with the family. Newark, New Jersey backyard of our apartment, circa 1954.

Friday, August 23, 2019

High Voltage Sounds

Every now and then when we're out at the marsh and walk past the high voltage wires, I hear a crackling sound. Roger doesn't hear it out there. I once tried to record it using the video/audio setting on my camera, but it really didn't pick up the sound. On Thursday we were out there and I heard it again. I set our iPhone on video record and got this. Roger listened to the recording and heard the sound for the first time. It's only 15 seconds of it, but I got it. Turn your volume way up!

I moved the phone around to see if one direction might pick it up more  than another. It sounds louder on the phone, but this does in some way convey that crackling sound. Scientific American did a piece on this sound, it's called the corona discharge.
The degree or intensity of the corona discharge and the resulting audible noise are affected by the condition of the air--that is, by humidity, air density, wind and water in the form of rain, drizzle and fog. Water increases the conductivity of the air and so increases the intensity of the discharge. Also, irregularities on the conductor surface, such as nicks or sharp points and airborne contaminants, can increase the corona activity. Aging or weathering of the conductor surface generally reduces the significance of these factors.
As you can see from this short video it was a foggy morning. What you can't see is that it was also pretty humid.  It wasn't crackling hot out there, but the high voltage wires were definitely crackling away.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

the emperor's new fence

we finally tired of watching blackberries slowly swallow the house next door. we've been here four plus years. the house we view while washing dishes has been unoccupied for at least seven years. someone owns it and pays the property tax, but pays the house no mind. we have never seen anyone there, nor have the neighbors who have lived here longer than we have. it is a bit weird to live next to the eyesore of the neighborhood.

we are replacing the fence between our houses with a taller fence with a foot of lattice above. the top of the original was about where the third lateral down is in the picture, so we could see the sea of berry vines. the top space will be filled with lattice. the rest with solid boards. we will adorn it with fence art. more fence art.

Friday, August 16, 2019

50 Years Later

I originally posted this on the blog ten years ago, on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Here we are ten years later and a full half century past that weekend in 1969. It's interesting to look back and be utterly grateful that we took a chance, my sibs and I, and headed out that Friday morning on a trip that would be remembered for a lifetime. My twin brother and I were 17 years old; my sister was 16; our older brother was 20. We didn't bring food or a camera. We borrowed sleeping bags from our neighbors because we had never camped out in our lives. We weren't ready in any way for what we were about to experience, but we went with the enthusiasm of the moment and were not let down. We only spent one night and one morning there. Friday night we heard Tim Hardin, Richie Havens, Melanie, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez. We didn't really sleep Friday night at all. The sound of a half a million people is pretty interesting. There may have been music Saturday morning, but we were sidetracked by looking for food, standing in long lines for the outhouses, and listening to Wavy Gravy tell stories and messages from the stage. We left on Saturday afternoon for the trip back home, smiling the whole way. We went to Woodstock!

When this book first came out ten years ago, the sales page website had a quote from me on it. I was so thrilled. Still am!
They came from the city, they came from the country, they drove hundreds of miles and hitch-hiked across the state to be there for day one of a three-day music festival built on a platform of peace. Learn about the experiences, the adventures and the lasting memories from the people who spent three days in a farm field, in the mud and rain and witnessed the transformation of three ordinary days into an extraordinary event known as Woodstock.

"Everyone looked just like us," remembers Robin Chanin, then a 17-year-old from suburban New Jersey who was among the nearly 500,000 attendees. "It was a great equalizer. No one stood out. There was a moving river of blue jeans and flowing hair, lots of beads, embroidery and flowers. We parked our car in a field with others, and not knowing where to go, we joined the throng and the movement simply took us there."

That's me they're quoting. I really am almost famous!

I looked through the book again and found this as well.

When I wrote this post ten years ago, I had sent a copy of the book to my mom. She was also using the internet back then, so I sent her the link to the page advertising the book with my quote. I asked her after she had seen the webpage advertising the book, "Now aren't you glad you let us go?"

"Yes and no, Robin, yes and no." I think she secretly loved that we were the rebellious young people she and my dad had raised us to be.

We went to Woodstock, my sibs and I. Wild young people we were back then. Fifty years is such a long time ago. Some dreams persist.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Monday, August 12, 2019

Looking For Distractions

News and politics are driving us crazy. Seriously. We seem to be in such dire straits here that we're seriously considering moving to Canada (if they would take us temporarily) if the worst case scenario actually happens in November 2020. As I typed the number 2020 it made me think momentarily that we may be okay; we'll have perfect vision (in England that would be 6/6 perfect vision); we'll know the truth; we'll rescue ourselves. Then I realized how absurdly ludicrous that thought is. We need a back up plan, an escape. I'm in a heightened state of panic. We went to the marsh for a walk,  to forget the daily barrage of bad news, to breathe the ocean air, to see if the birds had returned from their summer sojourns to the north. The air was beautiful, but the birds are still mostly gone. We did see this heart that a few birds made for us. We rejoiced in the gift. Forget politics it said, we'll make you smile. And this was true.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: A Tree

We pass this tree on the way up the hill to one of the food markets in town. I see so many thing when I look at it. I posted the image on Facebook and asked friends what they saw and got such wonderful responses. So, I thought I'd share it here on the blog as well. I see women's bodies, a donkey's head, barn owls in profile. What do you see?

Monday, August 05, 2019

The Beach Walk

When we made it up to Houda Cove on Saturday morning it was still pretty foggy out there. But there is just something about the sounds of waves, the ocean air, the far distance view way out into the Pacific that is always a celebration of beauty.

I don't usually post photos with stray humans in them, but I just so loved the rock island out there lit by the sun. It looked like an illusion. The closer rocks were still in the shade of the fog and trees.
One of our favorite things about this beach is all the sea life. If you click on the photo you'll see mussels, sea stars, and the most beautiful sea anemones (Anthopleura xanthogrammica).
We liked seeing how long this seaweed was and how it was so perfectly wrapped around the rocks. Wave or human action? I really don't know.
I looked at the sky wondering if there was a hint of a fogbow out there. I'm not sure, but there was definitely an arc that caught my eye.
But what really caught my eye was Roger walking his favorite beach at a minus tide on his birthday. It was a lovely morning adventure.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

77 Trips Around The Sun

The rocky walk down to the beach
If all goes as planned we should be out at our favorite beach early this Saturday morning for a significant minus tide walk. It's a special morning we'll be enjoying out there-- Roger will be celebrating his 77th trip around the sun. What a grand coincidence it is to have a tide of -1.4  on such an occasion.
Here's a little bit of what we hope to see when we get there. It's always beautiful. We're bringing a thermos of tea, slices of toast and jam, and the delight of having breakfast while the waves roll in. We're so looking forward to the adventure.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


I realized late Monday afternoon that I hadn't visited any of my favorite bloggers at all. That's so unlike me. Reading my favorite blogs is the sane part my morning routine that I have kept for almost 15 years. What was I doing instead? Hanging out with my twin brother who has been here for a visit this past week and is leaving to drive back to Santa Cruz Tuesday morning.
We've been having long talks about life, love, family history, politics, the state of our planet, our country. We've been talking about getting old, plans for the inevitable future, our health, our hopes, our dreams. The kind of conversations that go on and on, diverge, get crazy funny and crazy sad. We laugh. We sprinkle the conversations with words from our long ago past, the Yiddish phrases our mother said to us, the funny things our father said. You know how those conversations go, so full of love and a bit of wistfulness.
My brother loves to go for long walks. So do we. So we've been out walking. He's a bird watcher. I'm a cloud watcher. We point out the beauty of earth and sky to each other. We took him for a walk in the redwoods. He took us to McKinleyville to see the mouth of the Mad River.
Here's a photograph he took of Roger and me one evening in the kitchen, "slaving" over the hot stove to make him dinner. (We had a good laugh about that!) He's leaving early Tuesday morning for the long (350 miles/563 km) drive home. We're going to miss him, but I'll have enough free attention to visit my favorite blogs and catch up with you all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Be Kind

Sometimes the words on a post in the neighborhood say all the words we need these days.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

July 20, 1969

Highway 1 in all its winding beauty
In July 1969 my parents and my aunt and uncle flew to California from New Jersey for the first time. My parents were going to explore the possibility of moving there after my twin brother and I graduated from high school in 1970. They flew from Newark to San Francisco where they spent their first night. They rented a car and drove Highway 1 south, that magnificent winding highway for 450 miles. When I think about it now, I am really blown away that they actually did that. They were all from the city streets and parkways of New Jersey This is quite a slow-going wild highway. But they did, and they fell in love with the beauty that is California. They chose to make it our future home.
Earth as seen from the moon
While they were there in California, my maternal grandmother came to stay with my siblings and me. She was 77 years old, an immigrant from Poland/Germany who had come to this country and settled in Newark, New Jersey in 1921. She was an avid reader of the news, subscribed to IF Stone Weekly, and was one of the smartest most insightful people I've ever had the pleasure to know and love. She was also a seamstress who hand-stitched wedding dresses (I always remember the needles and threads in the curtains of her kitchen window) and a baker who could make the most delicious plum kuchen. We had a lovely time together, the week that my parents were exploring California.
That moment
On Sunday, July 20th we turned the TV on to watch an event together. I sat with my grandmother and watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. We saw it; we felt it; we were amazed by it. It was a moment that lifted our hearts more miles than we knew possible. We were awestruck. It was a new future before us. My grandmother who had come from the shtetls of Eastern Europe, who had lost almost her entire family to Auschwitz, who had traveled farther than she probably ever imagined possible had just watched a man walk on the moon. I was 17 years old and suddenly had California and dreams as big as the moon in my life. The future possibilities seemed without limit.

It's hard to fully grasp that a half century has passed since that day. A half a century. I'm older than I ever thought I'd be back then. I have often wondered what Bob Dylan meant when he sang, I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now. In some ways now I know.

PS- all photos borrowed from the internet, one from Travel California and two from NASA. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Dandelions

In the foggy morning the closed dandelions looks so bleak, like a yard full of unkempt weeds.
In the sunny afternoon their yellow open flowers are beautiful in all that light, hardly looking weedy at all.
I'm pretty sure there's a lesson here somewhere.

Monday, July 15, 2019

In Memory of...

...someone we never met, but who touched our lives since the beginning of our blogging days. Roger and I started The New Dharma Bums back in late 2004, when we had just retired and had moved from Santa Cruz to Port Townsend, Wa. Oh those were the days of learning about birds and native flowers of the beautiful pacific northwest, of seeing bobcats and coyotes in our yard and herons in our pond. Early on, someone named Sky Babu started to comment on the blog. She lived in the Seattle area and was a lover of birds and flowers.
Sky's photos of her garden flowers
We started to email each other back then and began a lovely and loving virtual friendship. She had a blog, but did not post much there, and finally gave it up in 2014. Through all of our moves, Sky and I stayed in touch. We connected on Facebook ten years ago and stayed friends there ever since. She was a kind and caring person, one whose professional life taught her much about the importance of compassion, heartfelt care and true concern for our fellow humans.

I have been very quiet on Facebook lately, here too for that matter. Facebook's algorithm doesn't always show me my friends' posts, and none of the posts that do show up are in any coherent time format, so I lost track of some people. Just the other day I thought about Sky. I hadn't heard from her and I didn't see any recent posts or comments. I thought I should just send her a message to check in, but I didn't. I let the thought slip away. A day later we received an email from Sky's husband letting us know of Sky's death on July 10th. My heart sank. I so wished I had followed my instincts and written her.

So here's what I've learned these past few days, when you think of someone you haven't heard from and are wondering how they are, write them. Don't put it off. Also, how will you let your blogging friends, your virtual heart buddies know when you have shuffled off this mortal coil? What are your plans for your blogs?

The news of Sky Babu's death woke my heart up to new questions. Here we are waving good-bye to people we've never even met in this lifetime, and yet we cry.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

A Meager Attempt

There are very few things that shut me up, and right now there are so many of them that it's hard to think of a single thing to write here. I never like leaving the blog unattended. So here is my meager attempt at having a post here.

Neck-banded goose
We saw these geese out at the marsh. I photographed them because I love how big the young geese are getting. When I downloaded the photos I noticed that the parent goose has a rather tight band around its neck. It has letters on it. I called the marsh to ask if they knew anything about it. It did not look good at all. They didn't know, but suggested someone I could email. I'm just curious, why would anyone put such a thing around a bird's neck? If I hear anything I'll keep you posted.
Towels in the afternoon breeze
The weather has been beautiful. An incredibly lovely balance to the things that are breaking my heart. For the past month we have been drying our laundry on the line outside that Roger constructed for us. I was inspired by our fellow blogger friend Sabine to make the best use of our beautiful sun. Sabine also wrote about getting energy from her solar panels even on cloudy days. Well, that made me want to try and dry our laundry outside on our typical gray days here. It worked! Ah, the best part of the internet.

We are finding joy in the little things, and that's pretty much all we've got.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Monday, July 01, 2019

Planning For The Future

Scenic Overlook
California has a new season.  It's called Fire Season. If you google California Fire Season you'll see all kinds of news articles about how the possibility of forest fires is now all year long. We've experienced the impact of fires here in Humboldt County and also when we lived in the Sierra foothills from 2009-2014. The biggest threat to us here has been the smoke. It gets pretty bad in late summer when the fires are burning in the forests east of us. It can go on for weeks. Northern California's utilities are provided by Pacific Gas and Electric. They were fined a HUGE sum of money this year for the horrific human cost of the most recent few years of fires which were determined to be caused by their large, sparking electric line towers. The latest news is that PG&E has sent out word that we should expect power outages and rolling black outs that will likely last up to five days. Well, that should be pretty interesting. So, we decided to go out and buy a little generator to keep our refrigerator running. We have a gas stove, so that should still be workable.
Zoomed in close up
We drove up to the little town north of us to purchase the generator. We like to run any errand that takes up to McKinleyville. It's just 4 miles north of us, and right on the Pacific. We drive through town and get back on the freeway so we can go to the scenic overlook. I always like to see if there are any harbor seals on the bank of the Mad River. If you look closely at the top pic, you'll see those little white specks and spots. Yes! Those are napping harbor seals.
Mad River and the Pacific
Just a short walk takes us to where we can see the mouth of the river. No matter how many times we stop here to take a look, it always wows us with its beauty.

It was easy to forget for a short while that the purpose of our journey was to buy a generator for what will surely be necessary in our future. Ah, modern life. What a wild time it is to be alive these days.