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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Words On A Wednesday: OReilly

There's no walking the beach here during regular high and low tides. So, we always love when there's a minus tide. We get to take walks on parts of the beach that are usually inaccessible. The cliffs are high, and the tides go farther and farther out. There are tide pools and lots of beach to explore. We went out early Saturday afternoon to walk south to New Brighton Beach. I think it might be a little more than a mile or so to get there.
My twin brother, Roger, and I headed out to enjoy the beautiful sunny warm weather we've been having here. It was grand. We saw lots of fossils, wave-polished glass, and beautiful shells everywhere. We walked and walked, talked and talked, and that's when I noticed it. A seal washed up on the beach by the cliff. It was not moving at all. It looked dead. As I got closer, I saw flies on it. I thought how much of a bummer it must have been for this creature to end up here on the beach between Capitola and New Brighton. I got a little closer and that's when I saw it. Its heart was beating beating beating in its furry chest. Thump thump thump. I couldn't believe. This poor seal was still alive. It broke my heart. So, of course I went into rescue mode. I called Native Animal Rescue, listened to their recording and found out that I needed to call Marine Mammal Rescue. Googled around and found their number.
Someone actually answered the phone there on a Saturday afternoon. I tried to explain to him where this seal was. He asked a lot of questions that I just didn't have answers to. I wasn't even sure what kind of seal this was. He said he would send a rescue team. I lost the phone connection with him, and we walked on. But my heart was attached to this little creature who was struggling there on the beach. I couldn't even bring myself to photograph him. And you know me, I photograph everything! But I wanted to give this guy a little private space in whatever time left he had on earth. We headed up the hill and walked to the top of the cliff to walk the trail home. On the way back we could see him from up there, still on the beach. That's when I photographed him and noticed that someone had written words above him. I flipped the image to see what it said.

MARINE RESCUE. Someone else had also taken the time and called Marine Rescue. We were so glad. Later that day I checked the Marine Mammal Rescue center's website. There were no new reports during the weekend. Monday was the first day they updated their rescue page, I checked again and sure enough he had been picked up on Saturday. He was given the name OReilly (probably for St. Patrick's day). On Monday there was no diagnosis yet. But we learned that he was a young Elephant Seal and weighed in at 85 pounds. 
On Monday we walked the minus tide to honor my mother and scatter flower petals in the bay for her. Interestingly we saw the Marine Mammal Rescue truck there. So we went over to talk to the driver. He told us that they had gotten another call about another seal. We told him we hadn't seen one on our walk that day. But I did tell him about reporting OReilly on Saturday. He told us that OReilly had been taken to Sausalito for care and assistance. Then, he and his team headed out to the beach to look for another seal to rescue.

On Tuesday morning we checked and found that OReilly was still alive and had been diagnosed with malnutrition. He may have just been weaned from his mother. Their patient rescue page is full of young seals just weaned.

I cannot tell you how happy I am as of this writing that OReilly is still alive. He's in good hands and hearts. It's the best we humans can do, and I am so happy that I had a tiny hand in this.

PS-- Roger and I have done this before, called Marine Mammal Rescue. Here's a blog post from ten years ago.  When we see an animal in distress we just can't look away.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The First Year Goes By

We came to Roger's family beach house to be calmed by the sea and send out our love to those whose ashes have been scattered here. My father, Roger's parents, and our kitty cat Bonsai are here. I had hoped to have some of my mom's ashes to add to these blue waters on this first anniversary of her death, but I don't have them yet. I'm sure I will before this house has been sold.

My parents first came to visit us here at the beach house in the very early 1990s shortly after Roger and I had fallen in love. Here they are when all of us were so much younger. My dad was not well in this photo. My mom was holding him up. They loved it here, and we were so glad they had a chance to visit us before my dad died in 1992.

Later my mom would come and visit with us in all of our wanderings. She flew to Port Townsend, WA and fell in love with eagles and minus tides. She flew to Grass Valley and stayed a month with us. She loved the garden and  the Sierra mountain range. She loved seeing the Yuba River and sitting on the deck in the hot foothills sun. But what she really loved best was visiting us at the beach house.
My mom with my twin brother
She loved this view. She loved to breathe in the sea air. She loved to sit on the deck and say hello to all those who passed by. She loved that she got to see so much wildlife leaping in the bay. She loved it all.
My mom with my sister watching whales
So we drove 350 miles to look out at these blue waters and remember her here in a place she loved. The Yahrzeit candle is burning for her. We will walk the minus tide on this day and scatter flowers in her memory. We will shout out our love for her to the sea. We will remember.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

On The Road

We left home on Sunday and headed 350 miles south to Roger's family beach house. We had planned the trip for a while. I wanted to be there on the anniversary of my father's death (March 14th) and for the first anniversary of my mother's death (March 18th). We also met up with one of Roger's brothers and sister-in-law here to have the long family talk about selling the family home here after having it in the family for the past 80 years. We're all getting old now, and the talks are serious and timely.

I'm burning a yahrzeit for my father which I lit after sundown on March 13th. It will burn until sundown on the 14th. It's a tradition I have kept for all these 27 years since his passing. On the 18th I will burn a Yahrzeit candle for my dear mother for the first time. It's hard to imagine in four days it will be a year since she's gone. We miss her everyday.

Since we've been here we've been seeing a whale in the bay. It's been in roughly the same area since Sunday. So, on Wednesday I got worried enough about it that I called California Whale Rescue to report it. They said they would send someone to check it out. But by Wednesday afternoon it had moved on a bit. I actually got a very crappy photo of it. It's hard to time these things no matter how many times I called out, "C'mon whale, c'mon up and show us that you're there." After a while I'd put down the camera, and of course that's when it would rise a bit and breathe. I did manage this lousy but utterly exciting shot of it!
We're so glad that the rains have finally stopped here in California. Venus is clearly visible in the early morning sky and breathtakingly beautiful an hour before sunrise.

So here we are appreciating the beauty of our earth, mourning the passing of our loved ones, and planning to change our lives by giving up this view. We are beginning to understand viscerally why so many songs, poems, and books have been written about the passage of time.

Monday, March 04, 2019

After The Rains

I never read the book Fifty Shades of Gray, but I suspect it wasn't about the skies over Humboldt County. I could be wrong about that though. We have seen more shades of gray than we could ever imagine seeing. We had three times the average amount of rainfall here for the month of February. In fact we got more than the average monthly rainfall in just the last five days of the month. Are we tired of it? Oh my yes. Do we run outside when there is a hint of light. Yes.

A day without rain was promised to us by the ever-vigilant weather forecasters. We headed out for a walk and brought rain gear just in case. But they were right! There wasn't much to photograph, but we didn't mind. It just felt good to be out there breathing the air and looking at more than what we see out our windows. We did get to see this bright orange jelly fungus.
Ah jelly fungus. We've seen them often, but never wondered about them. So, when we got home we did a little googling around and found some interesting stuff.  "In many areas, jelly-like fungi seem to appear out of nowhere when moisture is abundant...These fungi appear in a wide range of colors, from white to orange, yellow, pink or even black, and have a gelatinous texture when exposed to sufficient moisture. One of the most remarkable features of these fungi is their ability to absorb as much as 60 times their weight in water, turning them from tiny, dried up nubs to short-lived natural art in no time." Quite an interesting life form. We love learning new stuff like this.
On Saturday there was a brief appearance by the sun. We drove up the coast a bit to look at the mouth of the Mad River. The local rivers had all been around or above flood stage for quite some time. The river mouth was wider than we had ever seen it. And the bluff above the shoreline looked a bit washed away. It was an interesting perspective, especially considering that where we were standing probably had the same washed away look below us.

We are so looking forward to spring. 

Long, soaking spring and fall rains are vital to trees in the landscape, but they can also reveal secrets about the health of these plants. In many areas, jelly-like fungi seem to appear out of nowhere when moisture is abundant

Read more at Gardening Know How: What Is Jelly Fungus: Will Jelly Fungi Harm My Tree?
Long, soaking spring and fall rains are vital to trees in the landscape, but they can also reveal secrets about the health of these plants. In many areas, jelly-like fungi seem to appear out of nowhere when moisture is abundant

Read more at Gardening Know How: What Is Jelly Fungus: Will Jelly Fungi Harm My Tree?
Long, soaking spring and fall rains are vital to trees in the landscape, but they can also reveal secrets about the health of these plants. In many areas, jelly-like fungi seem to appear out of nowhere when moisture is abundant

Read more at Gardening Know How: What Is Jelly Fungus: Will Jelly Fungi Harm My Tree?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: End Of Feb Photos

It has been a slow month for photos. I went through the pics I have and came up with these. We are so looking forward to some warm sunny weather soon.

The illusion of a mountain range and flowing river above the actual mountains

A bit of iridescent reflection in the pond

A truly elegant rooster strutting

A Crow and Red-shouldered Hawk sharing the wire and discussing the weather.

Cloud Cap formation above town
Thank you all for stopping by and commenting. Our lives are truly enriched by your presence here.

Monday, February 25, 2019

On Another Frosty Morning

We woke to 28 degree temps the other day which meant it was absolutely clear blue skies. There had been a bit of a drizzle in the middle of the night which left the cars all over town with frosty windshields again. It's an interesting thing to be dazzled by this when so many people all over the country wake to their cars looking like this and dread the effort they know it will take to scrape that stuff off and head out to work. With all the rain we've been having and are still having, we take the beauty in wherever we can find it. Frosty windows have their own bit of science too, the things that make these patterns different on each car. Some of it is dust, some scratches, some patterns left by rain. I read somewhere that said these are never twice the same, like the individuality of a single snowflake. So, yes, here are some more of the unique windshield art from a cold, cold morning.


This last one is actually the hood of the car. We were delighted with the natural art show on this cold, cold morning.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Making The Best Of it

It's been a very cold rainy wet February. We've had over 9 inches (23 cm) of rain so far this month. Hard to get out there and do the things we love to do, especially when the winds have been blustery as well. So when the sun comes out and the wind slows down a bit, we head out quickly for a good look around.

One of the surprises this month was the first snow here on the coast in more than 30 years. It was so unusual it made news all around the state. Yes, the north coast got an inch of snow! This is what the front yard looked like February 10th. It was a cold 27 degrees, and the streets were slushy and slick. We took a careful walk and saw lots of snowmen all over town.
A few rainy days later we had to drive into Eureka. Lucky for us it coincided with a very brief respite of blue skies and a view of what was heading our way. We were zooming over the bridge, so I grabbed a shot from the window of the car. Yes, those dark clouds are what we've been seeing for days and days.

Finally on Saturday there were longer periods of blue skies between the downpours.
We put on our rain gear and headed out. It was grand to see such blue skies.
This particular cloud was definitely moving in our direction. We walked quickly, but not fast enough. We were pretty soaked by this one as it moved over us. We had a good laugh about it. Second time that day we had been caught in a downpour.

We know when it's raining and the sun starts shining to run outside to look for the rainbow. We were definitely not disappointed.
I always love when we get to see where that pot of gold should be!

We did finally get a chance to take a longer walk out at the marsh on Sunday. The reflections were lovely.

If the weather predictions are correct we may have a day or two more of sunshine to play in. It's a great way to avoid the news. We are living in crazy times. Climate change and politics. Seriously crazy times.

Monday, February 11, 2019

himself, then and now

approx 35 yrs old
i lived in fortuna then. about 25 miles south of arcata, where i now reside. long hair was fun. david crosby wrote a song about it. almost cut my hair. i was a backwoods hippie back then. my resume was mainly about computer work. not much of that going on in humboldt county. i tried cutting firewood. really hard work for not much money. i went in with a friend buying an old barn to salvage for timbers and the ever so chichi aged barn siding. that worked out ok. then there was tree planting. hard work but fun to be outdoors. then i started doing residential remodelling, sometimes beginning with just a floor and one wall in a house partly begun. i learned pretty much the entire range of skills, beginning with plans and permits, necessary to build a house. as i recall i did scale back the hair and beard somewhat sometime in that era.

definitely 76 yrs old
some forty years later i now live in arcata, a retired geezer. i did get back to computer work. spreadsheets and database creation. and i did have fun working on a small construction crew.
i retired from programming and carpentry. tho i have done some major alterations on the houses robin and i have owned. more shingle project pics my hair is long now because i have never really liked getting a haircut. i am deficient in chatting skills. my hair has been much shorter in the intervening years but it grows very fast and quickly gets beyond the sort of length i like. then i put off a haircut til it annoys me too much. now i wear it tied back and don't care about it at all.

my current look while awake. i don't wear my glasses much in the house.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Our Litte Polar Vortex

Our temps fell below freezing on Monday night. Snow was forecast, but it didn't happen. We woke Tuesday morning to clear skies and a temperature of 27 F (-2.7 C). So, we went for a chilly morning walk and were delighted with the frosty art on some neighborhood car windshields.

The streets were icy too. That was a slick and slippery surprise as we made our way around the neighborhood.