Monday, September 30, 2019

The End of September

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

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Deluge and The Webs

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Birthday Love

Today would've been my mom's 94th birthday. It's the second one without her now. My older brother sent an email on Tuesday to my siblings and me telling us that he's throwing a birthday party in our mom's honor tonight. He's making the dish that she fell in love with while she was living with him three years ago, barbecued chicken that's been marinated all day in his very secret sauce. There's going to be a family gathering at his home in Virginia for that.

My siblings and I all responded with such enthusiastic joy at such a great idea that we each decided to come up with our own birthday party plans.

My sister said that she had been talking with her children and they're going to have a birthday party dinner as well. They're going to make a dish that my father used to make for the family many, many years ago. It's a spaghetti and meatball dinner with another secret family recipe for the meatballs. There is going to be a family gathering for that at her house.

My twin brother said he was going to cut a bouquet of flowers from his yard and take them down to the Capitola wharf (the wharf that we could see from the beach house window). He's going to scatter those flowers in the bay the way Roger and I have done for so many, many years. He's going to shout out a Happy Birthday to her, and a loving hello to my dad whose ashes are there.

Roger and I are going to celebrate by making my mom's favorite breakfast food, a batch of almond maple granola. I used to make a double batch all the time and send her half. It was how she started every morning in her assisted living facility, and here as well when she lived with us. We shipped granola to her so often, the local shipping place knew us when we walked in the door.

We shared emails about our plans. It was so wonderful, so full of love.

My phone rang after all the emails. It was one of my brothers. He said, "I was just meditating, and I sensed that mom came for a visit with me. She told me that she wants you to send me half of that granola."

We laughed and laughed.

Our mother will always be such a deeply loved mom.

This is our cyberspace birthday card! 
Happy birthday, mom, wherever you are in the universe!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The End of an Era

On Monday the real estate sale closed. Done. Final. Roger and his siblings sold the old (VERY OLD) family beach house, that much-loved home that's been in the family for 82 years. It's true. Gone. The last time we were there was in March, and we did not know that it literally was the last time.

Roger has been going to that beach house since he was a twinkle in his parents' eyes. His grandparents bought it in 1938. So much has happened in that house. So much love, weddings, celebrations, births. It was always a home of utter joy. When you walked in the door and opened the blinds, the chaos of the rest of the world slipped away. It was just this... the bay spread out before you and the air greeted you with a fresh awakened newness.
Roger and I got married in that back yard nearly 30 years ago. We lived in the house from 1989 to 1994 and then again in 2008-2009. It was a respite, a sanctuary, a place where our hearts felt content and our spirits renewed.
So why, you might be wondering, would the family decide to say farewell to this beautiful piece of family history? Because we live the closest to that house, and it's a 350 mile drive to get there. It's not an easy trip, and it's gotten harder as we've gotten older. The last time we made the journey, we actually spent the night at an air bnb to cut the drive in half. The rest of the family is even farther away and require either two days on the road or flights from Colorado or Hawaii. The siblings understood that the old house needed more attention that they simply could no longer provide.
The last time we were at the beach house we took long minus tide walks. We helped rescue a stranded young elephant seal. We ran out in the morning to watch sunrises and whales spraying. We marked the first anniversary of my mom's passing. When we left  we closed the blinds and the doors and said good-bye as we always do. We did not know it would be the last time. Ah but it was.
Farewell, beach house. You will be in our hearts and memories always.

A note from Roger:

robin has expressed quite eloquently my family’s history and sentiment around “the beach house” as the family called it. thank you robin.

i will add that our loss is balanced at least a bit by the relief that we will no longer worry that something disastrous and almost surely expensive could happen to the house at any moment. it is very old.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Just A Moment

Out for our first walk of the day, looking south a half hour after sunrise. The low radiation fog just coming up from the rain soaked pasture. A truck zooms on the two lane road between us and the bay and the mountains and the sky. An ordinary day begins. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Other Side Of The Fence

Lately when we've been out walking I've been drawn to these plants and flowers that show such persistence in their search for the light of the sun.
Or maybe they're just winding their way and suddenly find themselves on the other side of their world.
They get such a different view of life.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Packed With Surprises

We were walking our favorite trail at the marsh the other day and noticed a man carrying a very interesting looking pack. From where I was standing, it looked like an unusual pack with a lovely picture of birds on it. That's when I noticed that the birds actually moved. So I photographed it.

He and his partner came up to the trail and told us that this is a "cat pack" that people often buy to bring their cats out on walks with them. So, they bought one to bring their birds out on their walks. They had tried taking the birds out one at a time on a leash, but preferred this so the birds could be together.
He told us that all animals like to have an opportunity to be outside and have a look around. They really enjoy the view. We told him that we really enjoyed this view as well.

I think those birds are going to learn how to talk, and they're new song will be, "Take us to the marsh! Take us to the marsh!"

We do get to see the most interesting and surprising things sometimes.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Dorian Reminded Me

I hadn't thought about this in so many years, but the news about Hurricane Dorian reminded me of the one night in Boulder, Colorado January 1982 when my then-husband and I  experienced  Chinook Wind. This is how NOAA describes the event:
Chinook winds are downsloping, warm, and dry winds that occur on the leeward, or sheltered, side of mountain ranges, such as the Rocky Mountains. Chinook winds are fairly common during the winter months and often bring extreme increases in temperatures to the region as they move from west to east across the mountains. While these winds bring warmer temperatures during the winter months, they can often be devastating, with sustained winds and gusts sometimes as strong as those produced by tornadoes and hurricanes.
On January 17, there were numerous reports of peak wind gusts in excess of 100 mph in the area. NOAA’s Environmental Research Laboratory, now known as Earth System Research Laboratory (ERSL), measured a 118-mph gust on its roof before the power failed. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) at Table Mesa in southwest Boulder recorded a maximum wind gust of 137 mph just after 2:00 a.m. MST on the roof, 600 feet above the city. During the second high-wind period, NCAR recorded a 130 mph gust. In all, 20 gusts of over 120 mph were clocked at NCAR between 1:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. MST.
Boulder bore the brunt of the damage during the January 17 windstorm, which was one of the worst in the area’s recorded history. An estimated 40% of all buildings in Boulder suffered at least minor damage between the night of January 16 and the morning of January 17; about 50 homes were damaged badly enough to be uninhabitable. In one instance, a gust completely unroofed a home, with the roof sailing over two adjacent houses before landing on a third. The winds also hit the Boulder Municipal Airport especially hard, destroying about 20 small planes. Several utility poles snapped, and thousands of electricity customers were without power. The wind also caused erosion damage to about 50,000 acres of farmland in Boulder County.
We were wakened by the roaring sound of something we could only describe as a train barreling through our little house. It was 2:00 am, and the sound went on and on. We had no idea what was happening, but got out of bed trying to figure out if we were safe. All night long the wind blew with that sound.

In the morning we got in our little Volkswagen Rabbit and went out to take a look at what had happened. The damage had the equivalence of an EF2 tornado and was evident everywhere we looked. This is some of what we saw and photographed.

It reminded me of an earthquake, that unbelievable moment when where you happen to be changes in a radical instant without warning. We were lucky that there was no damage to our little rental. We could resume our regular lives having experienced something that was truly unforgettable. To think about the people of the Bahamas and what they endured for more than 40 hours is truly unimaginable.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

What We Did Instead

We had planned to walk into town on Monday for the annual block party. It's quite a festive event with music, food, art, and a silent auction. But for some reason when it was time, we decided to go to the marsh instead where it's quiet and the air is cool with bay breezes.

We've been out to the marsh a few times in the past couple of weeks and I haven't taken  a single photo. Not one. It's still a nice place to walk even when nothing calls to me to grab my camera. So I was truly surprised and delighted to find a few things that called my attention.

Here's what we saw in our hour-long walk out there. First thing to call my attention was this Marbled Godwit. There were lots of them out there looking for food in the incoming tide.
We walked farther on along the rocky path and this dragonfly caught my eye. The wings flashed white in the afternoon light. I liked how it blended in with the stones.

Then the river otters popped up in one of the ponds. The fish were jumping like mad, and the otters were hunting for their lunch. I really think they were looking at me and trying to convey their discontent with my annoying presence.

We were most happy to see the Brown Pelicans. We hadn't seen them in more than a year, and it occurred to us that we hadn't even seen any the last time we were in Capitola in March. So seeing pelicans was such a good sign. (They had twice been driven nearly to extinction and were saved by the Endangered Species Act.)
 But it was this moment that made my day. I shouted a thank you to this bird for posing like this.

While I was reading about Brown Pelicans, I learned that this is called a Head Throw -- "it occurs when a pelican throws its head up and back, way way back! The head throw is thought to be a way for the pelican to stretch the skin of its gular pouch — its throat — in order to maintain its flexibility and health..." I love learning something new like this. 

Oh yes, we were glad that we had decided to head out to the marsh!