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?