Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Did It Look Like This Or Not?

I looked out the window at 8:30 in the morning and saw rays of the low winter sun pouring through the leaves, branches and fence out there. So I ran out with the camera and clicked a dozen photos. When I downloaded them, I tried to figure out which one actually captured what it looked like.
After nearly an inch of rain on Sunday, the sunlight caught every bit of wetness out there and shined it out like moments of magic. And then it was gone.
The top photo is a screenshot of the downloaded photos from my camera, unedited. I tried editing a few photos to see if I could make it look like what I think my eyes saw. I chose this one. Is this what it looked like? Yes. Or did it look different? Yes. Can we ever really capture the moment with its color and light? Maybe. Maybe not. It's fun to keep trying.

Today is the last day of 2019. We are happy to say good-bye to this crazy year. We're hoping for a much better 2020. Roger and I wish you all a Happy New Year. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Solving A Silly Mystery

I run outside before sunrise to take photos of the sky so often. It's one of the highlights of the morning to see the sky fill with some color as the earth heads in the direction of light. So I went out Sunday morning and clicked a few photos. When I looked at them later in the day I saw this.
This is what the camera showed me, completely unedited. It always shows up dark like this, which is why I edit it to look more like what my eyes saw. When I was looking at this photo I noticed something that seemed to be coming down from the sky or up from the mountains, a skinny thing on the left there. I couldn't figure out what it could be. How did I not see that with my eyes when I was standing out there? Click on the above pic and take a look.
So I edited the photo, lightened it to look much more like what I saw. Mmm. That thing is still there. I see this view all the time, how could I not know what I was looking at? So I went outside in the afternoon to scan the sky and see if it was still visible. Why yes, yes it was. It's a very skinny little branch, the tallest one that sticks straight up from our miniature maple tree. It's the only branch that reaches that high above the fence. In all the years I've been photographing that view I never quite captured it like this.

I laughed and laughed and laughed. Really. I couldn't believe I had been bewildered by it, imagining all kinds of space alien transport system scenarios right here in Humboldt County. LOL. I laughed some more.

Here's a view of the sunrise, a bit closer, no aliens, and even a hint of iridescence.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Friday Music: Om

I had a different song in mind to post for today, but Ram Dass's death inspired me to post this. I first heard this song by the Moody Blues in 1968 when I was 16. Oh that sound... OM ... it really called to my heart. Then in 1971 I found Ram Dass's book Be Here Now, and that was something I would pick up and read many times over the years. How lucky I felt to have found it when I was 19 and confused about everything. Yes, Be Here Now. It's still true. How well Ram Dass knew. So, in memory of Ram Dass I post this.

The rain is on the roof
Hurry high butterfly
As clouds roll past my head
I know why the skys all cry
Om, om, heaven, om

The earth turns slowly round
Far away the distant sound
Is with us everyday
Can you hear what it say
Om, om, heaven, om

The rain is on the roof
Hurry high butterfly
As clouds roll past my head
I know why the skys all cry
Om, om, heaven, om

A few years ago I actually photoshopped the cover of Be Here Now, which I changed to Be There Now. I've never posted it anywhere, but I thought it would be good to share what I think the world looks like now.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Happy Holidays

I posted this photo on Facebook nine years ago (and again yesterday). I photographed this from our backyard deck when we were still living in the Sierra foothills. I thought it captured the essence of the season, that star of sunlight in the fir tree. We wish you all a lovely holiday, how ever you celebrate, may it be with love, peace, and kindness.

Monday, December 23, 2019

My One and Only Radio Show

I’ve been thinking about this story for a while. It may have to do with sharing music here on Fridays, it seems to have reminded me of the time I did a three-hour radio show. It was back in the mid 1990s. I had been hired by a lovely woman named Tara (yup, that Tara!) as an administrative assistant for SOAR (Student Organizations and Advising Resources) at UC Santa Cruz. It was a job that had a lot of interactions with students who were involved with all the student organizations on campus, and there were a lot of them. One part of SOAR was Student Media that covered all the campus publications and radio broadcasting. They had their own director of Student Media and two advisers who specialized in either the print side of the student organizations or the broadcasting side. After a year at the front desk of SOAR, there was an opening for the Print Adviser job which I applied for and got. I was so happy. My very first college class was in Journalism, and it was a subject I dearly loved. So, I began advising students who published the campus newspapers and poetry journals. I loved that job. I was the go-to person for all their questions from how to get funding, how to find a publisher, how to pay their bills. I convened a First Amendment Seminar every quarter, and an attorney from San Francisco came to enlighten them about their rights and their limits. I loved that seminar so much.

That print advising job went well. My supervisor was so pleased that after a year or two she was able to get my job reclassified to a higher level position, and I became the Assistant Director of Student Media. There was a catch though, I had to audit a full quarter long course on Radio Broadcasting. It was an interesting course, and I learned a lot at the time. Right at this moment, I have no idea what they taught me, but I’m sure it was enlightening. The thing I do remember is that in order to complete the course I had to do a three-hour on-air show. That scared me to no end. Me on the radio? No way. I’m a very shy girl, always have been always will be. Me on the radio? Really? Do I have to? Yes, the answer was "yes" every time I asked.

So, I did the radio show. Well… sort of… I’ll confess right here that I cheated. As you already know I love music, and Roger and I had lots and lots of music in our house to choose from. I planned ahead for those three hours and made three CDs of music for the show. I dedicated the show to the music from the 1960s. One hour of CD music was of bands that were from England. You know them all— The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, Cream etc. One hour was music from the east coast. There was music by Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. And one hour was music from the west coast. That hour had Crosby Stills, and Nash, Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, The Byrds, The Mamas and The Papas, etc. We even recorded PSAs (public service announcements and press releases) right on to the CD. Roger read some of those for me. It was so much fun. So, when I did my three hours of broadcasting all I did was plug in those CDs, and then sit back and enjoy the show.

Here is a bit of the recording. That's me doing my on-air show 22 years ago, although we can't figure out why I'm talking in the beginning about trying to get this recording done. We had to upload it as a youtube video, even though it's mostly a black screen and my voice.  Blogger won't let us upload an mp3.

Now I have a nice short music show on Fridays. One song on the blog. No talking. No PSAs or press releases. Just the delight of the sound of the one thing that unites us...our universal language…music.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday Music: These Times We're Living In

This is one of our favorite Kate Wolf songs. She was an inspired singer/songwriter who died much too young of leukemia in 1986. There is an annual music festival in her name every year here in northern California.

Down by the river the water’s runnin’ low
As I wander underneath the trees
In the park outside of town
The leaves turned brown and yellow now
Are falling on the ground
Remembering the way you felt
Beside me here when love was new
That feeling’s just grown stronger
Since I fell in love with you

Now we’ve only got these times we’re living in
We’ve only got these times we’re living in

Winter wood piled on the porch
Walnuts scattered on the ground
And wood smoke risin’ to the sky
An old man comes home from work
And he hugs his wife in a sweat-stained shirt
Walks hrough that door to
Where it’s warm inside
And I’m walking as the wind
Rustles in the fallen leaves
My footsteps picking out a tune
My heart sings silently

Now we’ve only got these times we’re living in
We’ve only got these times we’re living in

See the roses dried and faded
The tall trees carved and painted
With long forgotten lovers’ names
Old cars standing empty
And dogs barking at me
As I walk through the quiet streets the same
If I could I’d tell you now
There are no roads that do not bend
And the days like flowers bloom and fade
And they do not come again

We’ve only got these times we’re living in
We’ve only got these times we’re living in

Thursday, December 19, 2019

101 Years Ago

Today would have been my father's 101st birthday. Not a day goes by that my siblings and I don't think of him even though he's been gone almost 28 years. I've posted about him here on the blog often. I feel like you, dear friends, know him too.
So here's an interesting thing to add to the story. Just the other day on December 16th there were many news pieces about the date being the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. I've mentioned many times that my dad fought behind enemy lines in The Battle of the Bulge. But it never occurred to my sibs and me to think about the actual dates of the battles. When we heard the news about the anniversary we realized that it was likely that our father celebrated (I'm not sure that is the right word) his 26th birthday on the fields of war. He was so young. He was a combat medic. He aided the wounded there on the fields, applied bandages, and assisted in his calm, gentle, and thoughtful way.
We remember him everyday, and on his birthday we shout out to the universe our birthday wishes and our ongoing love.

PS-- My father got a birthday present one day early from the House of Representatives. Trump was impeached. Now that's a gift that would have made him so happy. Yay!!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Words On A Wednesday: The Dream

I don't usually tell my dreams here. It just seems odd to share such a thing, but I had a dream and actually remembered it. It's been years since I have remembered a dream (way back when the neurologist called my neurological event of 2011). I used to remember them in the most exhaustive details. I could go on and on recounting them to Roger, and then all of that stopped. I know I still dream, but they are gone from my conscious recollection. Gone. I had a dream Monday night that I remembered.

Sea Otter photographed in 2015 in Monterey Bay
The streets were filling with water. Gushing and rising higher and higher. I looked out the windows. I called to Roger to come see. The water was everywhere, and that's when I saw it. A sea otter was staring at me from the rising tide. The otter and I looked at each other. I looked away. When I looked back she was at the door looking in at me for help. I let her in. I looked away. When I looked back there was a giraffe and a rhinoceros with a monkey on its back. They were all looking in at me. They wanted help. I wanted to help, but I didn't know what to do. I looked away. When I looked back they were gone.

That was my dream. This is life on our planet.  I read the other day that the population of California sea otters is now only 3000, and the giraffe has just been added to the Endangered Species list. I looked away, and then they were gone.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday Music: Coney Island

Coming down from Downpatrick
Stopping off at St. John's Point
Out all day birdwatching
And the craic was good

Stopped off at Strangford Lough
Early in the morning
Drove through Shrigley taking pictures
And on to Killyleagh
Stopped off for Sunday papers at the Lecale District,
Just before Coney Island

On and on, over the hill to Ardglass
In the jam jar, autumn sunshine, magnificent
And all shining through

Stop off at Ardglass for a couple of jars of Mussels and some potted herrings in case
We get famished before dinner
On and on, over the hill and the craic is good
Heading towards Coney Island

I look at the side of your face as the sunlight comes
Streaming through the window in the autumn sunshine
And all the time going to Coney Island I'm thinking,
Wouldn't it be great if it was like this all the time.

I can't remember when Roger and I first heard this song by Van Morrison, but we've been listening to it for many years. We learned that the word "craic" means news, gossip, fun, and enjoyable conversation. Yes, when we we're out the craic is good. The last lines always move me.

Roger always drives us on all of our adventures. I look at the side of his face and always think... wouldn't it be great if it was like this all the time. Yes, yes it would.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Pareidolia

Pareidolia is when you have a propensity to see faces or objects in things, like clouds. I tend to do that when I'm out and about and looking around. Tuesday morning I looked out and saw this cloud formation. My first thought was, "Wow, there's a monster's face there. Look at those fiery eyes!" So I grabbed the camera and photographed it. Do you see it too?

Friday, December 06, 2019

Friday Music: Scarborough Fair Revisited

My brother sent this to us the other day, and I cannot tell you how much we love this music. A song that sends us back to our younger days being performed by such talented young people. Sometimes I think music is the one thing that gives me hope about the world. It just seems to transcend borders and boundaries, beliefs and ideas, religion and politics. When we listen to this we both sing the words from so long ago. Roger said, "You know Bob Dylan had some of the same lines in Girl From the North Country." It's true. These words, "Remember me to one who lives there, she once was a true love of mine." So then we wondered who wrote the lyrics first, Dylan or Simon and Garfunkel. Well, surprise surprise for us, those words were written much longer ago and according to Wikipedia may have actually been inspired as far back as 1670. Ah music, we so love the art and poetry of it all.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Wordless Wednesday: On The Church Roof

I thought about captioning this, but then decided I would leave that up to you.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Iridescence and Grandbabies

I'm sure the neighbors must wonder why I run outside with the camera all the time, but most especially when there are some lovely high clouds and an abundance of sunshine. Well, because every now and then the clouds and sun produce iridescence like this, and it makes me happy. I blocked the sun behind one of the vents on the neighbor's roof and watched the colors unfold.
It disappears pretty fast, leaving no trace other than the smile on my face and my uplifted heart. Yes, this makes me happy.
Elena, Silas, and Ian
And this also makes me happy. Roger's youngest daughter Elena gave birth to her third child on the day before Thanksgiving. Lovely little Silas Orion arrived on November 27th and was home in time for the day of celebration on the 28th. It is truly a remarkable thing for me to see a tiny human being only a few hours old. There are nearly 8 billion humans on earth, and yet there we were looking at Silas and feeling the awe of beholding someone who is utterly unique all the way down to his DNA. We welcomed this little human to our beautiful planet with the hopes that it will be as good and beautiful for him as it has been for us when he reaches our age.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Friday Music: Calm and Meditative After The Fire

I had a different song picked out for today, but the phone rang and the music plans changed. It was a very dearly loved family member calling. She was crying and sounding as distressed as I've heard her sound in years. I could hardly make out what she was trying to tell me. I stayed calm. I said, "Please take a breath, tell me what's happening." She cried and sobbed out the words that there were firemen at her house, her stove had caught on fire, the flames were shooting out of the oven into the kitchen. She had been baking some of our family's most traditional Thanksgiving dishes when it all went wrong. The firemen put out the flames, but had to take the stove outside into her backyard. The dish was ruined by fire extinguishing, and the Thanksgiving dinner that was supposed to take place at her dining room table had to be rearranged. The firemen were incredibly kind to her. She thanked them all (ten of them!) for coming on Thanksgiving. They told her not to worry. They said, "You're just the first stove fire of the day." The stress of hearing her sob with such emotional pain was overwhelming for me. I had to find music that would calm me down. So I went to my music of choice. Lifescape Music for meditation. Ah yes, I listened to that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Counting Geese

I was going to do a post about going on a blogging hiatus. I'm so distracted by the current state of affairs in the United States and on our planet I can hardly think about anything else. But then I noticed all the geese. They are flying over our neighborhood every morning, honking their songs from the sky. Yes, I run outside to see them every time I hear them. In fact, I was on the phone with my sister the other day when I heard them. I went out and held the phone up to the sky so she could hear them 700 miles away, honking honking honking. She said that even her great dane Lilly heard it through the phone and started to growl. I was so surprised. It did make me think about that impeachment testimony about Sondland holding the phone away from his ear and other people at the table could hear Trump talking loudly. He must sound like a huge flock of honking geese (no offense to the geese). I wonder if the people at the table growled as well. Anyway, I lost my train of thought. See what happens when I try to think about anything else. LOL.
Whenever I see the geese I wonder, "How many are there up there?" Is that a hundred? Five Hundred? A thousand? Well I set out to answer that question. There was a small section of a flock flying overhead when we were on our morning walk. I clicked a photo with our iPhone. Take a look at the above picture. What would you guess? How many?
I outlined the flock in colors and counted each set. It was ridiculously tedious, but I was on a goose counting mission, and I prevailed. I came up with 177 geese in this photo. So, extrapolating from those numbers, I can safely say that there have been days when a flock of 1000 geese have flown over our house.

I'm going to try to keep posting here on the blog, but I did just read a headline that Rick Perry thinks Trump is "the Chosen One." I may have to hunker down and go into silence mode, or I could count the number of leaves that have fallen to the sidewalk from our neighbor's huge weeping willow. I'll let you know.

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.