Friday, November 22, 2019

Music Friday: I Carry Your Heart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it(anywhere i go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

A dear friend sent us this song a few years ago and we have loved it ever since. When I googled around to find out more about it I was so surprised to find that it is actually a poem by ee cummings. The musician Michael Hedges wrote the music and turned it into this beautiful song. A couple of months ago I sent this to another dear friend who had just lost her husband to cancer. She wrote back and asked me if I recognized David Crosby and Graham Nash singing the backup vocals. No I had not! What a beautiful surprise that was.

Here is a link to ee cummings actually reading this poem. I love the internet for all of this!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Two Bows

I had been wondering what I could possibly post about on the blog. It's been dark and dreary foggy for days. I looked through the very few photos I've taken in the past week. Oh yeah, I tried to capture what the sun looks like covered by a thick layer of fog. It looks a bit like a washed out moon. Not all that interesting. I also photographed the beautiful bit of blue sky clouds I saw when the fog parted briefly. Ah, so that's what I've missing I thought to myself. Not all that interesting, although I loved it immensely. Then I noticed the photo of the rainbow we saw last Friday. It was surprising because it hadn't rained or even drizzled but was merely damp. Still there was a rainbow, so I photographed it.
When I looked at the photo I saw something I hadn't noticed when I shot it. There is a faint bow above it. But it doesn't look like the usual double rainbow. It has no color. It looks like a cloud bow or fog bow.
So, I photoshopped it to show a bit more of it. There really is no color in that bow. It made me so happy. I'm going to send these images to my dear friend Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics to see if he confirms that I'm seeing what I think I'm seeing.

What do you think?

Because I can't resist, here is that hint of blue skies and cloud in a brief parting of the fog.
And then it was gone.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Music on a Friday

This is a song that my brother sent to us. I fell in love with it. The music and the lyrics, and also because it is written by Luciana Zogbi a 25 year old woman. There is something so compelling about a young person singing about a departed soul who has been wandering for 10,000 years unable to cross the River Styx.

Down by the river
where the angels and the devil meet
Where endings come to meet beginnings
And pay Charon's fee
Ten thousand tears you've roamed alone
While drunken prophets on the way
Stopped you to say
By the way
All that's in the milky way
By the way
All the oceans are for you
The moon
For you
Down by the river
Thirsty sailor's kisses line the shore
Where mermaids come to hear
The sweet lies of troubadours
Ten thousand years
You've roamed alone
While drunken prophets on the way
Stopped you to say
By the way
All that's in the milky way
By the way
All the oceans are for you
The moon
For you
The moon
For you
Down by the river
Where the angels and the devil meet

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Words On A Wednesday: Birds and Clouds

There haven't been many photographic opportunities lately. So when a flock of American Avocets showed up at the marsh, I was delighted.
And when the fog finally retreated after a week of bleak grey skies and revealed a cloud against the bluest of blues, I was jumping for joy.
These brief moments of beauty are the balance to all else.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Paved With Good Intentions

We do whatever we can to protect our environment. We're pretty conscious of the products we use. We recycle whatever is recyclable. We practice the mantra of Reduce Reuse Recycle. We make contributions to the organizations that work to help keep our planet livable and protect the other species we share it with. I write checks to Greenpeace, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, etc. We are absolutely glad that we can help, but we also regret it every time we open the mailbox and find stuff. And truly that's ALL THE TIME!! I simply don't understand how this is okay. The use of so much paper and stuff that has to be recycled. Our recycling bin is full of it every month. I'm not sure how to make them stop. We've gotten four beautiful 2020 calendars already. Those started coming in August. We give them to the grandkids who appreciate the photos and make lovely collages with them.

I'm going to continue to make contributions, but I think I'm going to start sending it with a note begging them to stop sending us stuff. Sure would be nice if they would just email us, wouldn't it? Those calendars sure are pretty though.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Music On A Friday

I've been thinking lately about posting some of the music that Roger and I listen to all the time. Music is such an integral part of our lives. If you search on the word "music" on the blog, you would be surprised by how often we have posted about music over the years. I don't know if you, dear readers, listen to music much, but if you do I would love to see posts of what music you are listening to these days.

Today I'm posting the song we listened to most while Notre Dame was burning last April. "Was It This Lifetime" by William Ackerman. A song that truly tugs at our hearts.

My twin brother sends us links to music all the time. He loves finding new young musicians and song-writers. Their sounds are so full of hope. I will be posting some of those over the next few Fridays, and some oldies as well.

Music is a good balance to the times we are living in. Let's rejoice in song.

Monday, November 04, 2019

The Whale Story

You can hardly see it, but the whale and the scientists are in the upper right
I wanted to share this story before it's long forgotten and covered in the dust and ash of time, fires and power outages. A few days before the power was cut here a Humpback Whale beached itself about eight miles from our house. It was still alive, but was tangled in fish netting all over. A group of Marine Mammal science professors from the local university and a group of people from California Fish and Game went to the beach to inspect the whale and see what could be done. They spent hours and hours cutting the netting from the whale until it was finally freed. It would be several hours before the high tide came back in, so people came to the beach to watch and hope and pray for this whale to make it back into the ocean.

We didn't go to the beach. As much as we wanted to go, we didn't want to interfere in any way with the hard work in helping this whale get free. We also didn't want to see it struggling. We followed the story closely on two local websites. We all knew what time the high tide would get to it. We were hopeful, but also worried that it might not be enough to lift it buoyantly back in.

As it turned out, the tide did not lift it.

There was still some hope for the next day that it might work out. The scientists explained that a whale's body is not meant to be stranded on a beach. Its own weight actually crushes its internal organs. They need the ocean to survive.

By the time the second day came, hope had pretty much diminished. There were a lot of opinions. A lot of bickering. A lot of second guessing. A lot of anguish everywhere. But it was determined by the several rescuers, scientists, and others that this beautiful humpback whale was not going to survive. It was struggling. So, it was euthanized that evening.

We went to the beach the next day. I brought a flower from our garden. An offering from our hearts. An apology for the tragedy that fish netting and humans caused this whale. We brought our tears. By the time we got to the beach though the marine scientists and students were performing an autopsy. I will spare you the photos. But we watched and grieved.

It's the closest we've ever come to a whale. I asked the main person in charge if I could please touch it, and she said "No." We looked in each other's eyes, this marine science professor and me. We had tears. We touched each other's shoulders in sorrow. It was the closest I've ever been to a whale, only one degree of separation, between that humpback and me.

If you go to this link, you will see truly beautiful photos of this humpback whale.
Please let me know if you want to see the photos of the autopsy. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Words On A Wednesday: Autumn Sunrise

I'm typing this on Tuesday in preparation for another power outage expected tonight at 9:00 pm and projected to last until some time on Thursday. We finally had power restored at 4:30 pm on Monday. We are tired, cranky, crazy, and angry. The morning temperatures are literally freezing and we have a lot of neighbors who don't have generators, wood stoves, or fireplaces. The cost of these kind of planned outages goes far beyond just having to live in the dark. Still, we run out to find beauty whenever we can. And, seriously, the best part of the ongoing darkness was being able to go out on the back deck at night and see the Milky Way. Our planet does whirl in a beautiful galaxy, and it's so good to be reminded.

Update Tuesday evening at 6:30-- Phone rings with the ID EMERG COMM-- I answer it and it is a recording from the City of Arcata. The robot voice says, "PGE has determined that the winds have died down enough to not require a 'public safety' shutdown." We had just prepped the house again for the outage, laid out the many extension cords, filled the generator with gas. We're utterly grateful, but this chaos is a bit unnerving.

Power to the PEOPLE! Right on!

Update Wednesday morning at 7:00 -- Phone rings, it's my sister calling from southern California. Uh-oh. She tells me quickly that there is a large brush fire burning near her house and she is under evacuation orders. Her son is there helping her pack the car and get her giant Great Dane ready to head out to safety. Such sad and wild times we are living in.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Ready For The Apocalypse

We ran into one of our neighbors early Saturday morning. We were headed to the local co-op to buy the last few items we needed to really feel food secure. It was 7:00 in the morning. We wanted to get there early before the weekend rush and the power outage that is looming over us this weekend. Our neighbor was out walking her sweet old black lab. We chatted a bit and then she said, "So, you're ready for the Apocalypse?" We had such a good necessary laugh. Yeah, we're ready... sort of. It's looming over us, another few days of no power. I think we're more ready this time then we were last time. This one is supposed to be longer. Oh well.

The local food markets are definitely prepared this time. When we arrived at the co-op we saw this very nice, big refrigerated trailer that they will be using to store their perishables. Yay! There was an article in one of the local papers that described all the efforts the markets are making to keep their stores open and food available. Yay!

California is facing huge windstorms this weekend. There are already big fires in the bay area and southern California. The utility company has decided that the best way to deal with the dry windy conditions is to just cut off power to a million of its customer. It's not a good business model, but it's what we've got for now.

So if our internet service provider goes down without any backup power source, which it did the last time, we may not be around for the next few days to post here or to read your blogs. Now you'll know why. I'll keep you posted.

Yes, we're ready for the apocalypse! Wheee!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Moo Cow Loop

Whenever Roger and I take a walk we give that particular walk a name. We'll say, "Want to do the neighborhood walk? The Big Loop? The Marsh?" Well on Monday we decided to take a new walk right out our front door. We started out on The Big Loop, but made a left turn, heading west towards the cow pastures and walked on the little roads that are behind our house.

It's quiet out there. A few cars passed us by, but for the most part it was just the cows and us for 2 1/2 miles. When we got to the street where we needed to turn left and head east, a mere half mile from our house, the road was literally filled with more than a 100 cows heading toward the barns. We waited for them to pass. I didn't get to photograph them because they were directly in the sunlight. It was delightful to see them. When the last few stragglers finally walked past us, we turned on to the road they had been walking on.
Our house is on a street behind those trees

We had just come from the road by the barn on the right. That's where we waited while the cows took their time walking by. They looked at us. We looked at them. They were curious. We were as well. But we all said our hellos and our moos and walked on.

We named this new walk Moo Cow Loop.  It reminded us of what our little suburban neighborhood must have looked like a mere 30 years ago. It was fun and a great way to forget the ongoing insanity of the news.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Two Anniversaries

(I first wrote this post for the blog in 2005. This is the third time I've posted it. The story never changes!)

October 17, 1989 dawned as one of those clear-sky, lazy autumn days. So beautiful it begged to be filled with hiking, playing, and exploring. I was working as a teaching assistant for Anthro 1 Physical Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, a course being taught by Adrienne Zihlman. Luckily, the lectures were MWF, and the labs I taught were on Thursdays, so I had this stunning Tuesday to share with Roger.

We started the day by heading to a restaurant out on Highway 9 in Ben Lomond or Felton. It was reputed to make great, hearty breakfasts, and we went to eat something rich and filling. The plan was to leave there, drive up Zayante Road beyond Lompico (way out in the boonies, for those not familiar with the Santa Cruz mountains), and explore the Loch Lomond Reservoir.

All was going well until we reached the gate to the reservoir. Big chains and locks. Big sign saying it was closed due to the drought. We hadn't known, and here we were all ready for a good hike. So, rather than be deterred by gates and signs, we parked the car, next to the NO PARKING sign, climbed over the chain, and walked down to the reservoir.

Oh it was a perfect day-- trees, bugs, birds, and water. Although I can hardly remember a single detail of the things we saw, I do remember that Roger and I looked a lot at each other. We had only been together ten months, living together, and still getting to know each other. That was part of the beauty of the day.

We hiked for hours and hours. Stopped and listened. Held hands. What fun until we heard thrashing and heavy footsteps coming right for us. Sure enough, the park ranger had found us and busted us for being in the closed park, and for parking the car where it expressly said not to. The ranger asked, "Is that your car at the gate, the one with the other parking ticket on the front dash?" Oops. Yes. That was my car with the ticket I had gotten about a week before. I must have seemed like such a little outlaw to him. But lucky for us, he was absolutely cool. He told us he wasn't going to give us a ticket, since I already had one (isn't that amazing?). He hardly ever had people to talk to anymore with the park closed to visitors; so, he offered us a ride back up the hill, about a mile, to our car. We talked on the bumpy ride back. He was quite a pleasant guy. We thanked him, bid him farewell, jumped into our car and headed home.

It took us about a half hour to reach the family beach house in Capitola. It was a bit after 5:00 when we stepped inside and walked upstairs to our little two room garret. Roger turned on the World Series, and I sat down to think about dinner.

Seismogram showing the main shock of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

That's when the house started to shake. SHAKE. One of the biggest earthquakes to hit California in years was rocking that house for all it was worth. Oh My God, that house shook. Things started to fall, I crawled across the floor to be next to Roger. He was holding back the TV and the vcr from falling to the floor. The 5 gallon Sparklett's water bottle tipped over. Water was spilling everywhere. Our bookcase slid sideways. I could hear things falling and crashing in different parts of the house. I thought I heard the toilet flush by itself. There was an ongoing roar coming from everywhere the earth shook. I looked out the window to see what the birds were doing on the beach below. The gulls were circling, circling. Dust was rising from the sand where bits of cliff had already fallen. Fifteen seconds. That was all. Fifteen seconds, and the shaking stopped.
Earthquake damaged homes in San Francisco.
We looked at each other and confirmed that we were both alright. We checked for damage around the house. A couple of small broken teacups. A few new cracks in the stone fireplace downstairs. The brick chimney that vented the water heater had fallen into pieces, bounced off the street and up onto my new car. Minor damage all. That was not true for the rest of Santa Cruz or our neighbors. Fallen fireplace chimneys were everywhere. Glass from broken windows littered the streets. We turned off the gas at the main shut-off valve outside, and went to sit in the car to listen to radio reports of the damage. Learned that the epicenter of the quake was located 70 miles south of San Francisco. That's exactly where we were. They announced the Bay Bridge had collapsed. Other roadways had crashed onto lower roads. People were crushed and trapped in their cars. Buildings were on fire in San Francisco. Much later we learned that the damage in downtown Santa Cruz was extensive. Some of our favorite places-- the bookstore, the bagelry--simply ceased to exist.
Downtown Santa Cruz earthquake damage.
We spent that night at our friends' house. Fifteen of us slept together on the living room floor. There were significant aftershocks all night. We held tight. The earth continued to shake sporadically for days. Slowly we emerged from the shock. Electricity was restored. Streets were swept clean. For months we could bike ride on roadways that had become impassable for cars. Life resumed, and yet it was changed forever.

Roger's family beach house backyard.
Three years later, on October 17, 1992, Roger and I commemorated the quake anniversary in our own way. We had been talking about getting married and had even gone ahead and gotten Marriage License. We woke on that Saturday morning, and said, "Hey, let's get married today." We called a justice of the peace who said he was available at 10:00 that morning. We called my twin brother and sister-in-law to ask if they would be our witnesses. In a matter of about two hours the ceremony was planned and executed. We stood barefoot in the yard above Monterey Bay, where the gulls circled and called. It was as simple a ceremony as you can imagine. We confirmed and committed to each other what we knew was already in our hearts. Afterwards, we celebrated by going to our favorite restaurant for breakfast. Later we walked into town and told the local video store guy that we had just gotten married. He gave us a free video rental for a wedding present. And it's been a charmed life ever since!
Actual wedding day photo of the barefoot bride and groom!
Tonight we will raise our wine glasses at 5:04 and drink to the memory of day that began beautifully, but ended in sorrow; and then to a day that began simply with a marriage that's led us here.

A gallery of Loma Prieta earthquake photos can be found here.

Postscript: We never had a chance to thank that park ranger. Had he not driven us to our car we would have been in the Santa Cruz mountains when the quake struck. No telling when we would have made it out of the hills that day.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pastels 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. Here is how the local newspaper describes it:
The event serves as a benefit for Northcoast Children’s Services, with local businesses sponsoring squares of sidewalk and inviting artists, who donate their time, to create with pastels that will wash away with the first fall rains.
Proceeds help fund preschool and family services for more than 1,000 children and families in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, according to event organizers.
We walked down there last Sunday to see it in a quiet time. Here is a bit of what we saw. It's quite a colorful and beautiful sight.

There were so many more photos, and even more gorgeous pieces of pastel art that I didn't photograph. It was a lovely way to spend a very sunshiny morning (hence all the shadows!). I have to say my favorite piece is the one with the elephants, and that's only because my mom loved elephants. It made me think of her and smile.

If you want to see more of the art and photos of the artists in action. Here is a link.

Friday, October 11, 2019


I'm sure you've seen the headlines about California's ongoing power outages. They are planned and executed by the very people who we rely upon to bring us our power. It's a new strategy for the utility providers to do these planned shutdowns as a way to avoid the massive fires that begin during high wind situations. Those winds can cause transmission lines to fall or a tree branch in the millions of acres of forests all over our state to fall and hit one of those lines. Our provider here in northern California has had to make very costly payouts for the huge cost of human life and property over the past few years during what has come to be known as "fire season." Instead of upgrading their power line infrastructure, they chose to simply shut down power for their customers.

So, at 1:00 am on Wednesday morning we woke to total darkness in the house. Total. Even the streetlights in front and behind our house were dark. We  had been forewarned some time in the afternoon on Tuesday that there might in fact be a power shutdown. Emails from the company came to our inbox. Texts came on our phone. Then at 7:00 pm it said, "Shut down tonight. It may be as long as five days."

How does one plan for such a long-time event? Well, we had our newly purchased generator ready. We had plans for meals. But really there's no way to keep things powered for five days. That's simply crazy. We couldn't keep the refrigerator running for five days on the generator. Many gas stations need power to pump their gas, so it was unlikely that we could refill our gas cans if we ran out. We saw photos of cars lined up for blocks waiting to fill their tanks the day before the outage.

While the power was out I realized that this was unlike all the other power outage scenarios we had ever been in. We have experienced many days without power because of snowstorms in winter and raging fires in summer. During those times of disasters we could rely on the efforts of the utility company's workers to be out there doing their hard work for us. During this outage it was a disaster of their own making.
So, we waited. It was a beautiful warm sunny day. Our internet service provider had lost power as well, so we had no way to connect and read any of our favorite news or blogging sites. Our cell phone was working, but I never use it to connect to the internet.  We mostly use it for music or for when we're on the road. It was simply a quiet disconnected day. We were powerless. We walked to the co-op to see if there was any bread available. When we got there we were blown away by the number of people in the store. Every check out line had a cashier, and every line was long. The store was dark. There was no bread, no bagels. We left and walked home. We ran the generator a few times during the day and into the evening to keep the refrigerator at a good temp. Then we moved the most perishable items into the cooler with lots of ice for overnight.

At 2:30 am the power came back on. The utility company moved their disastrous disaster avoidance system south to other parts of California that went dark on their command. We walked back to the co-op in the morning sunlight. The photos are of what a good part of the store looked like. They lost so much of their perishable items. Lucky for us, though, they did have some freshly baked local bagels.

Fire season is not over yet.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Kiev and Egrets

My grandparents
I had a post planned, a story I wanted to tell about my maternal grandfather. All the news about Ukraine and Kiev (Kyiv) has sent me down memory lane trying to piece together my grandfather's journey from Kiev to Egypt, a journey he and his brother took in the early 1900s to escape the pogroms. They walked all the way, or maybe they may have gotten some rides with people in horse drawn carriages. They may have walked through the Black Forest.  I called my 92 year old aunt (my mom's sister) who tried but couldn't recall all the details, except that he walked from Kiev to Palestine and then to Egypt where he learned how to be a barber. But the details just weren't enough. There are no photos from the time. The story is short. But whenever I hear the news about Ukraine and Kiev, I think how I have some long ago family history there, how the world is crazy big and crazy small at the same time... and really simply CRAZY always.

So, the weather has been utterly beautiful. We've been walking our 3 miles a day. Enjoying the blue skies and warm temperatures. We headed out to the marsh and saw two egrets walking a long the trail. One took off and flew into a tree.
The other walked down the trail in front of us for a ways, ignoring us and the other egret in the tree.
It let us get pretty close. Close enough that I almost got a photo of the Egret and Roger in the same shot. I was surprised by its calmness.

But then it got tired of us breathing down its long and beautiful neck and flew away.

No photos of that flight, no stories about Kiev.

The end.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

An Unexpected Local Headline

I often check the local newspaper online just to see what's happening around town. When I clicked on the link Wednesday afternoon, the headline surprised me and sent me searching for a post I did back in June. Here's a screenshot of that headline, if you don't click the link. The article is about a B-17 bomber that had crashed.

I photographed that very B-17 vintage bomber when it flew our blue skies in June. Here is the photo.
And, here's a link to the post I did about it back then. I remember it was such a surprise to hear this plane and see it flying over our little town here on the north coast. And now it's really such a sad surprise to see a headline saying it had crashed in Connecticut and that there were fatalities.

What a sad fate.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The End of September

September was a truly beautiful month here. The weather has been warm, and the skies have been full of beauty almost everyday. Cloud formations that sent me running for the camera, sun and moon rises that confirmed our earth's splendor.

One morning before sunrise, out on our first walk of the day, there was a rainbow. It was not raining, but it had rained in the night. One end of the rainbow drifted into the clouds and spread out its beautiful colors.
It really was a beautiful month. But really, who am I trying to kid? The best part of September has been discussion of IMPEACHMENT!

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Deluge and The Webs

Last Wednesday we had a downpour like we've never seen before. There was a flash of lightning, a huge rumble of thunder and then the skies opened up and rained down 2 inches (5cm) in a half hour. It was more rain than either of us had ever seen come down at once in such a short period of time. The streets filled with water, our rain gutters overflowed like a waterfall all around the house. Then it was over as quickly as it began. The streets cleared. The gutters stopped flowing.

The next morning I went out to take a look around. The sun was shining, and there were spiderwebs everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I think the rain may have destroyed all the webs, and the spiders came out in full force to reclaim their space. What a sight it was.

The spiders do like our yard because our flowers attract so many insects. It's like a feast for the little spidery beasts out there. This really did seem like a lot of webs.
Of course my favorite was the web that was iridescent in the sunlight.