Monday, June 24, 2019

When The Earth Shakes

You never know when it's going to happen, but you always know that it will. That's what it's like when you live in "earthquake country." I've written about it before, the earthquakes that we have experienced here, but I can't help myself writing about it again. When the earth shakes like it did Saturday night, it makes me want to write.

There is something about earthquakes that both scare and delight me. Isn't that crazy? We never know when one will strike, how destructive it will be, how long it will last, but we know that it's inevitable one will. The power of the earth to move like this is pretty profound. If you are safe, if you know how to respond, if it's not so destructive that you run out of food, water, or power, or if your house simply crumbles on top of you, it's an experience that makes you marvel at how the state of California came to look as beautiful it does.
It started to shake at 8:53 pm. We felt it. It wasn't anything like the biggest quakes we have felt, but it was a pretty good rolling around of unsteadiness beneath us. The weird thing is that while it was happening neither Roger nor I practiced any of the safety responses that we've read about, and that I actually performed in an earthquake preparedness drill. I think it's because this quake was not a roaring instant jolt. We simply looked at each other with that wild expression on our faces and the WOW of the moment on our lips. It shook. It shook. It rolled. It stopped. I immediately went to the USGS website to report that we felt it.

It will happen again. This we know for certain. Will we remember to do any of the things we're supposed to do? Good question.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wordless Wednesday: One Dewy Rose

iPhone photo in the early morning

Monday, June 17, 2019

Finding Ways To Laugh

We go out for a walk every morning after our first cup of tea. We call it our little neighborhood walk, a little more than a mile. It's just a way to get out and breathe the morning air and get a start on the day. We go early, before the handful of commuters and kids are out there heading off to work and school. It's nice and quiet, and the streets are empty. We noticed about two weeks ago that the city had installed radar speed signs on both sides of the road as a way to let the commuters know how much they were exceeding the speed limit. Most of them do go pretty fast. Well, on one morning the other day I noticed a jogger running down the road. I looked at the speed detector and it surprised me to no end that it actually detected his speed. He was running at 4 mph. For some reason seeing that inspired me to see if I could get that radar detector to see me.

So the next time we were on the road in the early morning, I asked Roger to photograph me running down the street when the detector detected me. It worked! I was running at 6 mph hours for that short little sprint of a jog. We laughed and laughed. Confirmation that it worked, that I do actually exist and I can run pretty fast for a short distance. We laughed some more.

I sent this photo to my family. They had such funny responses. One suggested that now I should start practicing to run at the speed of light. Another said it was great, but I'll probably never break the speed limit on the road. And another pondered if any bystanders would actually mistake me for a real jogger. We laughed and laughed some more.

It was a good balance to the absolutely crazy, heartbreaking, and mind-blowing unreal times we are living in. What makes you laugh these days? Please feel free to share!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Blue Skies and A Bomber

We went for a walk on a beautiful sunny afternoon to enjoy the warm temps and blue skies.

We looked up and noticed a plane flying low in the sky. It didn't look like any of the planes we'd ever seen before. So, of course, I photographed it. Turns out there is a sky show of old World War II bombers in Humboldt County, and we got to see one. It's a B-17.  What a crazy surprise!

Sunday, June 09, 2019

D-Day Plus 3

This is a copy of an old post that I posted on the blog on Memorial Day back in 2005. I put a link to it on Facebook just the other day on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. I am reposting it for blogging friends who are not on Facebook. When I think about this experience my father had as a 25 year old young man from New Jersey, it blows my mind.
My father was a combat medic during World War II. He landed in Normandie on D-Day +3, and made his way behind enemy lines in the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Purple Heart for a severe back injury sustained while rescuing fellow wounded soldiers from an overturned tank. That was a life-long, but bloodless injury. When my father was released from the hospital, he went AWOL. It's true. He and a fellow solider went to Paris for a week to really recover. When he returned to the front lines, he was told that he had a choice to make: Be recommended for a Silver Star for bravery AND face a court martial for going AWOL, or no court martial, but lose the Silver Star. He chose not to go to court.

The combat medic was one of the unsung heroes of World War II. He lived with the front line infantrymen and was the first to answer a call for help. He gave first aid to his wounded comrades and helped them out of the line of enemy fire. More often than not, he faced the enemy unarmed and was the foundation of the medical system with hundreds of thousands of surgeons, nurses, scientists, and enlisted medics.

The main objective of the medic was to get the wounded away from the front lines. Many times this involved the medic climbing out from the protection of his foxhole during shelling or into no-man’s-land to help a fallen comrade. Once with the wounded soldier, the medic would do a brief examination, evaluate the wound, apply a tourniquet if necessary, sometimes inject a vial of morphine, clean up the wound as best as possible and sprinkle sulfa powder on the wound followed by a bandage. Then he would drag or carry the patient out of harms way and to the rear. This was many times done under enemy fire or artillery shelling.

My father told us many stories of the things he had seen on the battlefield. The cries he heard. The limbs he had seen strewn about. I wouldn't say he was haunted by it, but he never forgot.

When I was young, my father was the go-to guy for all the neighborhood kids when they sustained a street injury. He could put together a butterfly bandage with his eyes closed. He was fearless around blood, and the kinds of things that made other parents very squeamish. When my cousin nearly tore off her finger in a door-closing accident in the 1950s, my father was the one who bundled her up and took her to the hospital. He was the epitome of the calm and quiet combat medic always.

On this day the 75th anniversary of my father's landing, I remember my father who passed away in 1992. This is my Silver Star of recognition for a true hero.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Derelict Neighbors

When we bought our house in 2015, we didn't notice that the house next door was vacant. Over the years it has gotten overgrown with vegetation, lots and lots of weeds, blackberry vines and buttercups. Only once in these past four years has someone come and mowed everything. So here for a comparison are photos of our yard and theirs. Ah derelict neighbors.

Someone in the family inherited the house ten years ago and has literally done nothing with it in a decade. I can't even imagine what it must be like inside. Ugh. Ah derelict neighbors.

PS-- I confess to absolutely loving the blackberry vines growing up over the windows. I am looking forward to them covering the roof someday. As one of my favorite bumper stickers said,  "Nature Bats Last."

Monday, May 27, 2019

It's That Time of the Year...

 ...for our favorite Arcata event, The Kinetic Sculpture Grand Championship. It always begins on Saturday morning Memorial Day Weekend and takes three days for these sculptures to travel the arduous path to Ferndale, traveling on roads, dirt, sand, and in water. It's an occasion that makes us smile in every way. From the moment walk down to the plaza early Saturday morning to watch them do their brake tests, to watching them as they make their way out of town towards the sandy coast.

Wikipedia's explanation:
Kinetic sculpture races are organized contests of human-powered amphibious all-terrain works of art. The original cross country event, the World Championship Great Arcata To Ferndale Cross Country Kinetic Sculpture Race,[1] now known as the Kinetic Grand Championship in Humboldt County, California, is also called the "Triathlon of the Art World" because art and engineering are combined with physical endurance during a three day cross country race that includes sand, mud, pavement, a bay crossing, a river crossing and major hills.[2][3]
 Here are a few of the sculptures we saw. There were 43 competing this year.

We came upon this  Paranormal Society sculpture on the Plaza, but I didn't get a photo, so I borrowed this one from a local newspaper. The sock puppet picked me out of the crowd and said,"These are tough times for the planet. Are you gonna be the one? Are you gonna fix it, lady with gray hair?" I told him, "Yes!" The crowd loved it. He pointed to a little boy standing next to me and said, "Little kids don't have to do it. You older ones do!" We all laughed. It was so much fun.

Later on these sculptures made their human-powered way through our neighborhood streets, which were lined with cheering crowds.

I can't tell you how much we love this Kinetic Sculpture Race. It is a time of so much energy, enthusiasm, joy, and vibrancy.

"The day came replete with shouts of 'For the Glory!' saluting the late Ferndale artist Hobart Brown, the race’s 'Glorious Founder.' Brown’s inspiration demonstrates 'adults having fun so children will want to grow older.'”

For the Glory!!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

An Oreilly Update

Wednesday afternoon I checked the Marine Mammal Rescue website as I have been doing everyday since Oreilly was rescued on March 16th. His name was no longer on the current patients page list. My heart sank. There are 145 patients there now and Oreilly is not one of them. I thought about writing them to see what had happened, but I was too worried. I had to work up the courage to ask about his status. I emailed and got this very quick response.
"Thank you so much for reaching out to The Marine Mammal Center and your interest in Oreilly the elephant seal. He did extremely well here at the hospital in rehabilitation and was actually able to be released healthy back to the ocean just yesterday with a second chance at life! I have attached a picture and story of him (complete with a little identification hat we glued to his head to be able to tell him apart from the other elephant seals at the hospital).

Oreilly was one of over 170 patients onsite at the hospital in Sausalito up until his release yesterday.  He was just over 1 month old when rescued but extremely underweight as a normal 1-2 month elephant seal should actually weigh around 300 pounds and he came in at just 86 pounds (over 200 pounds underweight)!  Unfortunately, he appears to have been separated from his mother prematurely and didn't receive enough of his mom's milk and/or struggled to find and eat food on his own in the wild after his mom left.  Our trained team of volunteers and veterinarians are here to help though and actually supported him learning to eat fish on his own.  Wonderfully, he was able to learn how to eat fish on his own, gained over 55 pounds at the hospital and was able to head out to the ocean at Point Reyes National Seashore."

I know you know how happy this news made us. I did my Oreilly happy dance all around the house, shouting out his name. He was released on Tuesday May 21st with 16 other Elephant Seals.

It's so good to have such wonderful news to report in these times. We wish all the Elephant Seal pups good luck and long healthy lives. 


Monday, May 20, 2019

Views From The Road

The day after my twin brother drove back home, Roger and I hit the road and headed north to southern Oregon for his sibling reunion at his sister's. It's not a very long drive, only 185 miles, but almost all of it is on very winding two-lane mountain roads. It takes 4 1/2 hours to get there. The weather was still rainy and bleak.

Heading north on Highway 101 to Crescent City
One of my most favorite sights of the trip was seeing this stratovolcano, Mt McLoughlin. There is something about seeing a volcano that makes me get a sense of our ever-changing earth. This one hasn't erupted in 30,000 years, but that's a mere blip in time for our planet. Our human lifespans seem so very short.
Mt McLoughlin in the layers of gray
It was interesting contemplating our time on earth while gathering for a family reunion. It was a lovely time together for those few days.

Posing for me in Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon
We are all the elders of our families now. Our bodies changing in the way they do, bending with age and challenges. Some things we could laugh about, others made me cry while we drove home.

Highway 199 is a challenging road. It bends, curves, winds, goes up and down mountains, all within two very close lanes. You can't look away for a moment. Roger did all the driving. When we got home I looked for photos of the highway. I found this one that pretty much captured what it looks like in Oregon. Once we get into California, it looks a bit like this but with towering redwoods hugging both sides. While googling around, I found that this highway is ranked 13th of the top 25 most dangerous highways to drive in the United States. Wow! The ranking is based on the number of fatalities per mile on each highway from the years 2011 to 2015, with Highway 199 coming in at an average of .575 deaths per mile. That’s a total of 46 fatalities in four years. Wow again! So yes, we both pay attention while we're on this road.

Klamath Bridge Golden Bear
Once we're on Highway 101 heading south, we breathe a sigh of relief. We get to drive along the ocean for miles and miles. We also cross the bridge over the Klamath River. There are golden bears on all four corners of the bridge. I love seeing them. It's a challenge trying to take photos from a car window while zooming by in the rain, but it's a great diversion. Timing is everything.

Monday, May 13, 2019

67 Years Later

Today I am celebrating my 67th birthday. I've often felt older than my years, but those years are definitely catching up. On this birthday I have a gift I don't often get, my twin brother womb-mate is here for us to celebrate it together. It's been good to spend time with someone who has known me all of my life. He likes the same things I do, has a very similar diet, and loves to go for long walks.  We laugh about our neurotic selves, get hysterical about our phobias, and cringe when we recognize how crazily alike we are.

Today I am 67, and Roger is 76 (until he turns 77 in August). We were born nine years and nine months apart. I calculated how many times our birthdays gave us reverse numbers like this. Turns out it's every 11 years. It started when I was 12 and he was 21 way back in 1964. Then in 1975 23/32, in 1986 34/43, in 1997 45/54, in 2008 56/65, and now 67/76. See, this is what happens when the skies are gray and there are absolutely no photographic opportunities. I go off on mathematical tangents that will take up a good part of a cloudy afternoon.

And really, after spending 67 years at roughly 40 degrees north of the equator for most of my life, I have literally traveled on this whirling earth 19,014 miles per day, 6,940,110 miles every year for a total of 464,987,370 miles. That clearly explains why I am so tired at the end of the day.

I would like to thank you all for continuing to stop by the blog and leave your incredibly thoughtful and kind comments. You help make this world and these times manageable.  Truly the best birthday gift, and I thank you.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

A Brief Check In

Hawk on our neighbor's roof, keeping an eye on things
I was going to write a post here to explain why we have become so quiet. It's hard to explain the anger and grief about the times we are living in. It has gotten to me in a big way. I fear for the future of this place we call "our country" and for the planet we call our earth. I just don't have the words.

I would love to know what you are doing to manage these times. People have told me that they stop listening to or reading the news. I don't think that would work for me. I like being informed even if it means knowing the worst of it all.

For our blogging friends who don't live in the US, how does our country look to you? And for the ex-pats, I wonder if living out of the country makes you feel any less shocked by the direction we seem to be headed? Roger and I have talked about leaving the country if the unthinkable happens in the 2020 election. But would we really be able to "divorce" ourselves from this place we have lived all of our lives? Does that ever really happen, a separation that makes you feel less attached to the things happening at "home?"

Then the news comes out on Monday about the possible extinction of one million species. ONE MILLION SPECIES! I read the articles and find a particular perspective in them that is actually part of the cause of such a disaster. It's that sense of dominion. The tragedy is discussed in how the extinction may have an impact on human's getting food and water. We are the cause of this catastrophe. I often say to Roger that we, even the most innocent of us, are part of the human impact equivalent of an asteroid in slow motion.

See why I'm not posting much?

How are you? Are you staying sane, and how do you do it?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A Failed Rescue

Pic taken through the window. See the spread wing.
There was a hummingbird in our yard on Monday that was spending a lot of time on the ground, wings spread out. Quite unusual behavior for hummingbirds. They are rapid-paced flitting little flighty things that hardly ever stay still. Ah, but this one was grounded, first on our deck, then on the ground in our yard. If I opened the door to take a better look, it would fly away a bit, but land again on the ground. It did that for hours and hours. So, I thought I should call the local rescue place for some assistance. Humboldt Wildlife Care Center rescues a lot of birds. So they came out to take a look.
Wonderful rescue team trying to capture the hummingbird
They agreed that this hummingbird's behavior was quite unusual. I had moved the feeder to the ground as close as I could get to it, to encourage it to eat. If you click on the pic you'll see the red feeder in front of the rescuer's blue rescue pack. The rescuer with the net approached the grounded bird, was steady and ready to capture it, when it flew up a bit and then into the neighbor's yard. Bummer. We knew it was going to land on the ground there, and that's not good. They have a very frisky cat. But there was nothing we could do. The instinct to not be caught is simply greater than the unknown concept of being helped.

Just watching these two make this rescue effort made me want to volunteer with them and do this kind of rescue on a regular basis. Then I remembered when Roger and I had considered such a thing more than a decade ago. I should have asked these two if volunteering at their bird rescue center requires me to "thump a rat." If you don't read the old blog post link, this is what that means: Could I kill a rat by "thumping it on its head" in order to feed rescued raptors. It was something another native animal rescue place had asked me when I had considered volunteering with them when we lived up on the Olympic Peninsula in 2006. Maybe I'll do some further research about their practices. If the Marine Mammal Rescue was closer, I would love to learn how to do that work.

I have a long-held belief that if you see it and it's in trouble, you have to rescue, you can't look away. It works out well sometimes, but even when it doesn't, it helps balance the madness of the world for a moment.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Words on a Wednesday: Bill The Goat

We walk a big loop around our neighborhood a couple of times a week. It's nice and rural. It's where we've seen and photographed the shadow of the earth at sunrise, anti-crepuscular rays, radiation fog, Buddha statues in crates, and plenty of cows; pics we have posted here on the blog. There is a farm out there that has lots of other critters as well, alpacas, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and goats. They keep some animals in one fenced pen, some animals in another, and then the feathered ones together in one. There was a time when this little goat, who we call Bill (of course) shared his space with one other goat and two Alpacas, who we called Al (of course). Then one day, little Bill was alone there in the pen. He's been alone for a while, probably two months. We walk past and always say "hello Bill!" We noticed on one of our walks that Bill was reaching out beyond the fence with his cute little mouth and eating grass, which is always greener on the other side, as you well know. So now, when we walk by, I pick lots of tall grass for him to eat. He runs over bleating his happy hellos. I love feeding him. Roger took the above photo, and it reminded me of a long ago photo when I was maybe five years old. It's good to see that the heart stays the same over the years.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Oreilly

I wrote the Marine Mammal Center and asked for an update on Oreilly, and for a photo if they had one. Here is the photo they sent. Look at those eyes! He has gained eight pounds and is improving. When he first arrived at the center on March 16th, the day he was rescued, there were only 48 Elephant Seals there. Now they have 104. We're still hopeful that he will thrive and survive and make it back to the sea. We cheer for him everyday-- OREILLY!!!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Wired For Sound

When we bought our house in 2015 we hadn't noticed what is now one of our most favorite things about it. It is literally wired for sound. One of the previous owners was a musician and had stereo speakers built in high up in the walls of the vaulted living room. We had an amplifier that we had brought with us from when we were living in Grass Valley. It was easy enough to connect that to the speakers through the inner wiring of the house. We plug in our iPhone to the amplifier and the music plays and fills the house. It is so cool.

I hadn't realized how much music is a part of our lives until I read some comments on a fellow blogger's site and saw that people don't listen to music as much as they once did.  It surprised me. Music is a part of our daily lives. We have music we love to listen to in the mornings, like Alexi Murdoch's album "Towards The Sun." In the evenings we still like Steve Halperin's "The Chakra Suite" with dinner. It's as mellow as it gets. If we hear a song that moves us while watching something on TV or a movie, I will do everything I can to identify that song. In fact as I am typing this Roger is getting a song we recently heard just a few lines of at the end of the Netflix show "After Life."

Sometimes it's hard to decide what to listen to. We do get bored with some of our old playlists. So, lately we've taken to picking a letter and just streaming the songs alphabetically. It's like the best radio station ever! We hear songs we had completely forgotten about, and that will sometimes send us on a whole other musical journey.

When I was growing up my parents listened to music often. On Saturday mornings while my mom was at work, my dad would assign my siblings and me each a room in the house to clean. While we did our chores, we always listened to show music. I loved making the beds and dusting the dressers while listening to "I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair..." or "Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger..." Music becomes the soundtracks of our lives and memories. Not to be too macabre, but I have a file on my desktop called "Songs To Play While I'm Dying." I read once that our ability to hear is one of the last things to shut down as we shuffle off this mortal coil. I've got a list of songs I wouldn't mind hearing, for instance James Taylor singing, "You Can Close Your Eyes."

Nowadays our hearts are pulled by the music of William Ackerman's "Meditations" album, which we stumbled upon because we had been playing the music of the letter "B" and heard "The Bricklayer's Beautiful Daughter." Made us wonder what other music we could find of his. We also recently fell in love with Michael Hedges' "I Carry Your Heart." Want to cry? Listen to that.

We love music. Our house is wired for sound, and so it seems are our hearts and minds.

What are you listening to? Please share.

Monday, April 08, 2019

The Lions Of April

Ah yes, April has definitely begun with the ferocity of a lion here on the north coast. It's been rainy, blustery, crazy windy, and relentlessly gray. Oh wait, it's supposed to March that comes in like a lion. Hey, April get with the program. You're supposed to be just those sweet showers to bring all those May flowers. C'mon April, lighten up.
We're still walking our 3 or 4 miles a day despite the weather. Though on Monday, we're in for a mighty big storm. Don't think we'll manage to get out there at all. We did walk on Sunday and the wind was so fierce I had to hold my hat on my head the whole time we walked. I understood why some hats have ties like a bonnet. It was that wildly windy out there.
It has not been a particularly picturesque time either. I think that's the part that disappoints me the most.  Any hint of sun, I run out with the camera to see if there's anything interesting happening anywhere. Nope. We did get to see our first Painted Lady butterfly and damselfly of the season. That made us quite happy. The Rufous Hummingbirds are still coming to the bird feeder in our yard on their long journey north. Seems a bit late for that, but we're glad to still be sending them on their way well-nourished.

The upside of so much rain is that the aquifers are full... and there are lots of mushrooms everywhere. We take beauty wherever we can find it these days. We keep looking too.

Notice how I didn't mention politics at all. That's me being kind, friends, really.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

End of March Photos

Here are some of the views and things we saw this month that haven't been posted on the blog yet. It was a beautiful month.

Arum palaestinum (in the Lily family)... it is very stinky!

A very cool gate

Beautiful driftwood fence art


Wharf shadow on beach in the morning light

The rain is coming

Turns the world into black and white (even in a color photo)

I had no idea a Double-crested Cormorant has blue eyes!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Haiku On A Wednesday

I've been thinking about life and death lately. I know, I know... when am I not thinking about life and death? But this has been different, it's also been about the times we are living in: The decline of our planet; the fight about God and religion and borders and war and bombs and money. All of it, everyday.

what we will become
this religion of our bones
sacred forever

Monday, March 25, 2019

Then We Drove Home

We checked the weather for a few days to find the one day without rain in the forecast to make the long drive home. We picked Thursday, and it worked! We waited until after the crazy bay area commuters were safely at their desks before we hit the road at 9:30 in the morning. We could have left much earlier; we were awake at 5:00 am, but we still would have arrived home by 4:00 in the afternoon. The commuter traffic is a nightmare that adds hours and hours. We were on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge by 11:30. Stopped at the vista point and watched lots and lots of people taking selfies there. What a scene.

Then we looked west to the Marin Headlands where the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito is located. We waved hello and shouted out our good wishes to Oreilly, the rescued Elephant Seal. We told him we plan to stop by and see him on our next trip to the beach house (probably in May) if he is still there. I've been reading about Elephant Seals on the Center's website. Right now they have 59 seal patients, 43 of which are Elephant Seals. Of course it makes us wonder why. Here is their explanation:
Northern elephant seals are the second most common patient at The Marine Mammal Center. From mid-February through the end of June, the Center's rescue and rehabilitation work focuses on orphaned elephant seal and harbor seal pups. Usually these pups are washed away from the rookery during a storm or have not learned how to forage. As a result, the pups are often severely underweight. Weaned elephant seal pups should weigh 250 lbs (113 kg). Our patients are often admitted weighing less than 100 lbs.
Oreilly weighed in at only 85 pounds. He was really a very tiny pup. As of this writing he is still alive. The Center has a success rate of 60-80%. So we are pretty hopeful that Oreilly will survive and thrive and someday be ready for release. It may take a while. So we're also hopeful we'll get to see him in May.

Then we drove through wine country for a hundred miles and then through the beautiful redwood forests for a hundred miles. It's a long trip, some of it on winding two lane roads where the cliffs above are eroding rock by rock onto the highway, and the drop below is eroding in the same way. We follow the speed limits there and make our way home.
As predicted it rained on Friday. We did get out for a nice four mile walk at the marsh on Saturday. It felt good to be home. We were greeted by our feathered friends and were delighted to see them.