I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A glass of Whine.

Sometimes I think that with one huge storm (or earthquake), here in California, the whole state will break off and (like some think) fall into the ocean.  We are like the spoiled children of the USA. We are such wimps when it comes to "real weather" that we just fall apart when the wind starts to blow. I'm not talking about 150 mile an hour tornadoes or level 5 hurricanes... I'm talking about a small wind storm that lasted for one night... with some rain. That's it! No blizzards, no volcano eruptions... just a windy day and all of a sudden the valley news has a "BREAKING NEWS ALERT"... folks are sliding off the roads and  big rigs are jackknifing all over the place.
Well, we here in the foothills usually take these "news alerts" with a grain of salt because they usually amount to taking in the outdoor furniture pads and closing the chicken house door for the night.It's so rare to have really bad weather that we kind of don't pay attention.
So, on Wednesday, I was expecting my friends to arrive for our SCAT meeting. I was hosting the group this month and I was going to show everyone how to make these folded paper Rosettes.
You cut strips of card stock and fold them, glue them together and make these wonderful ornaments of any size you wish. Then you use doilies, cutouts, and embellishments of any kind. Very easy to do.
Add some glitter and sparkle them up a bit and you have gifts, ornaments and package tops to give any time of the year.
This one is not finished yet. I still have to do something with the dragonfly... not sure what. We had a great time even though it was raining and the wind was blowing.
Do you see the oil lamp in the first photo? At one point, just as we gathered around the table to start the project, the lights went off.  I got the oil lamp down, washed the glass chimney (It was very dusty. We don't use them much) and lit it... when, all of a sudden, the lights came back on. This was a two or three minute event.
Well, that was a relief. I'm not sure what we would have done without the glue guns or the hair dryer. The rest of the afternoon was uneventful and the soiree was a success. Everyone went home with a beautiful medallion for the holidays and we had a great time. I cleaned up and then went to my computer to check my email and start a blog post about the meeting.
Now, before I start, I want you to know that although I act like I know what I'm doing with all this blogging, Facebook, emailing, storing and using photos ... I really know nothing. If it wasn't for the local computer store, my oldest son and a couple of friends that are more computer accomplished than me... I WOULD NOT BE DOING ANY OF THIS. This is my "mission statement", or better yet, my mantra when things go terribly wrong.

I found my computer in a state of suspended animation. We had even use it to look at Pinterest, when everyone was here and that was after the outage. I wanted to show them what else they could do with these little rosettes. Pinterest and Google have endless ideas on the subject. But, now, an hour after everyone left, the computer was Tabula rasa... a blank slate... void of information and access. 
I said my usual, "I can fix this." It's called the power of positive thinking and sometimes it works.  I went to the start button and checked to see if I was "connected". I wasn't.
 So, I waited for a while and then restarted the computer. That was the extent of my knowledge. My first and last hurrah. Well, the computer did come back on, but it only went to the home page and no further. I couldn't go anywhere else and my Nexus7 tablet was stuck too. When I read the "error" window, it said that either my connection was bad, the network was down (temporarily), I should clear my cookies, or the wireless router needed to be reset. The thing was that the "wireless router" had wires coming out of it... so I, with all my vast knowledge of routers, thought that maybe we needed to CALL SOMEONE. 
I called the local computer store and got this really nice, young man who went though a whole bunch of "do this and do that" until he announced that everything seemed to be OK and, yes, I was connected to the Internet. He didn't understand why I wasn't able to move to different windows. Then he said that the router might have gotten "FRIED" when the outage happen. They could come out, bring a router, switch the old one and see if that was the problem. He couldn't come until the following Monday and it would be $95. just for the service call. Oh boy!!
I made an appointment for Monday. 
Then I got up and went for a walk. The Prospector said I was being "cranky" and ".. it wasn't the end of the world." So I left. 
I went to find solace in the wind and wilderness.
I found it. It was windy and cold, and the sun finally showed its face within an hour of going down.
I let go of the "tude. 
I settled down.

I watched the last of the sun reflecting on the oak trees.
I watched the beautiful oak leaves falling in the sunlight and tried to photograph them as they fell. I need practice. I couldn't remember how to capture these leaves. Which settings on my camera would stop the action and catch these beauties in mid air? I can't tell you how many shots I took of them...
Before I got this one.
 My only "floating" leaf... ever. I actually had the camera on AUTO, so I didn't have to manually set the exposure time, ISO or the aperture. The "auto" setting was 1/500 of a second, not the 1/1000 of a second which I needed to freeze the leaf in mid air. It's not sharp enough, but I'm slowly learning what I need to get the image I want. With this camera I don't mind the learning curve, but I have to be brave and leave it on the manual settings.

Being out there and doing what I love to do...I forgot about the computer... routers... connections.
I saw the oak leaves changing color.
I heard the wind coming from across the canyon. I followed the sound as it moved through the trees and grasses, moving everything with unseen hands.
I saw the old Manzanita branch near Maggie's grave and wondered why it still looked so beautiful even in its dry and bent position on the ground.

I looked at the broken pieces of Manzanita, drying all summer in the searing heat...now lying on the moist ground surrounded by the leaves and earth. Does it know that it will become a part of the whole... that it will blend into the earth where it came from? Did I see resignation or acceptance in its dry branches?

I noticed the barbed wire on the fence and thought about the Prospector's comment. Kind of reminded me of ME... cranky, barbed and a little rusty, but fulfilling a purpose. Being what it is suppose to be. Just being barbed wire.
I was letting go of the anger at the computer and my inability to find out what was wrong.
It just felt good to be out there in the wind. 
I turned and walked back down the road to our house.
Nature is a great leveler. It's the one place I can go for reassurance that everything will be and is... OK. 
The next day the Prospector unhooked the Wifi router and I changed one thing in my Blogger settings and guess what? This morning the computer was working. I still don't know what specifically happen, but with a little ingenuity and that $95. still in our bank account, I'm online again and posting on my blog. 
The Nexis7 isn't working. We will have to wait until our son comes up and maybe he can hook up the Wifi again. Maybe I have too many toys.
Is it just me or does everything seem more and more difficult. We have four remotes for the TV. We have a water system that requires an engineering degree to understand. Our septic system is a complicated Minnesota Mound. We can't pull our car behind the RV without a special trailer. Even the new coffee maker is a learning curve. I'm always telling the Prospector that he can't die before me. I will be up the creek without a paddle. You will see me move to an apartment or just let everything go and live in one of the mine shafts on this property.
Do we do this to ourselves or is this a conspiracy?
I'm I getting old? Is everything getting more difficult and more complicated? It seems like nothing that we do gets any easier.
Sometimes I feel like this Manzanita branch... bent, twisted and going in the wrong direction.

And sometimes I feel like the Tombstone rock that I see, here on the mountain...  very old and being guided by geographic forces that I don't understand. 
I use to dream that I lived in a cave. The dream was a continuous one, that I remember dreaming many nights in a row. It was a huge cave with many rooms. It was dry and cozy. I was happy there. 
We didn't have much of anything. There were other people living there with us... relatives, I think.  I mention this because life seemed so simple... so fundamental. 
I mention all of this because I needed to whine. I don't like to whine and I don't like to hear others whine, but sometimes the whine just starts flowing and goes right to my head.
Sorry.




Monday, November 18, 2013

The Maiden Voyage: A different point of view. (Mine, not the dogs.)

I see that Carl got a post finished yesterday. Corgis are smart dogs and very entertaining. I'm sure that he elicited sympathy and showed you good examples of  OCD ( Obsessive, compulsive dog) behavior. I hope he behaved himself and wrote a good "point of view" story for you.
Last Monday, I woke up to this view out of the bedroom window.
I had just watched a wonderful video about photography and life by a man named Dewitt Jones. He was a photographer for National Geographic Magazine and he speaks on the subject of celebrating what's right with the world. He's really good and if you have 20 minutes out of your day to watch this video, I promise that you will find something here that will be worth your time.
The link is @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw-0hhoJLUo
It's called Possibility. It's so good. Please take a look.
So, I heard Mr. Jones again ask, "Where is the photo that is waiting for you?"
So I waited... and the sun came up... and ten minutes later I shot this image.
 And I waited another ten minutes.... then the light hit the window and came into the room.
 Yes! Change does hold possibility. The difference was only 20 minutes.
Please watch the video.

*******************
So, with this new found knowledge I traveled, with the Prospector and the Corgi Boys to the "edge"... the Pacific Ocean... to Bodega Bay.
Mr. Jones says, "And it’s not just the external edges that we have to test; it’s the internal ones as well."
You all know that I'm afraid of the ocean.  It's about the vastness, the depth, the endless water, the amount, the fish, the noise and the smell. I just feel it's going to rush in and sweep me away. I don't like being in the surf and feeling the movement of the water as it goes out. Even as a child, I was afraid. I'm sure that this goes much deeper than I completely understand.
As my years go by, I find that I'm less afraid of this vast body of water that I've lived near all my life. And where I live now there is no possibility of it reaching me anyway. I'm 1100 ft. above it all and even the rivers would not allow the ocean waters to come in and up this far. Like my fear of spiders, the older I get, the less these fears affect me. The ocean... spiders... they are all a part of this world I live in. Acceptance is key.
Also, I take the ocean in small doses... unlike spiders which just pop up in unexpected places, the ocean stays where it is. I go to Pacifica with my sister for a weekend. I drove down the Oregon Coast with my friend "D" this summer for a few days. And now, I venture forth with husband and dogs, to brave the multitude of water again.
We had to lift the dogs into the new RV. We had practiced for weeks to get them use to being inside the Bus. We knew it made them nervous but they were, we thought, OK with being inside. We brought their beds and blankets, their special pillows for the sofa... biscuits, dry food and their harnesses and leashes. They were pampered pouches. We made sure that their needs were met.
Cutter was not a happy camper. He spent the whole trip sitting next to the Prospector, and sometimes me, with his head on our laps. Sometimes he would lay down on the rug and rest, but the minute the bus slowed down or turned. he would be right back by our sides.
Carl, on the other hand, was trying very hard to be in charge of the situation. He would bark at anything he could see out of the windows and stayed on the sofa almost the whole trip. He would look at me, now and then, as if to be reassured that everything would be all right.
We drove over to highway 50 and down through Sacramento, over the river, past the Tower bridge and Raley's Field.
We drove through Davis.
Continued west and drove past a sign that brought back memories of travel with my own family when I was a little girl.  The Milk Farm Restaurant, in Dixon, was a popular stop for dining on highway I 80 since it was built in 1928.I remember it from the 50's.
The restaurant stayed open for many decades until closing in 1986 after a large hole was blown in the roof during a violent windstorm. Even after closing, the Milk Farm's tall animated-cow road sign stayed illuminated for years due to its popularity.
We passed the Nut Tree in Vacaville. At its peak, it contained a restaurant, a bakery, a gift shop, a toy shop and the Nut Tree Railroad  that gave rides from the toy shop to the airport. I really remember this  airport. It was 1960. I flew up there with a couple of UC Davis boys that just got their pilot licenses. The runway was really short and it was really windy. We almost ended up in the trees at the end of the runway.  But... we didn't. We returned the plane to Buchanan Field in Concord, where I worked and laughed about it for years but, we never landed their again. Ah, the memories.
Back in the RV....
We drove down to Vallejo and turned west onto highway 37, stopping for lunch and a quick rest near the Mare Island turn off.

Lots of tidal marsh land here at the north end of the San Francisco Bay. Interesting birding place but we didn't stay long enough to look for any.
Then we drove over Sears Point Rd (I call it Black Point cutoff.) and connected to highway 101. We drove North to Santa Rosa and then west again to the little town of  Bodega Bay.
  Remember Alfred Hitchcock's THE BIRDS? Some of it was filmed here. This is the town were the birds went crazy.  Great movie!
We drove past town a bit and drove into the Bodega Bay RV park, a few miles north of town.
Now, let me tell you something I learned about RVing. Always bring a small car with you when you are driving a class A motorhome, because once you set up, you're kind of stuck. RV parks are rarely in town and this one was no exception.
The park was nice but the town was a long way down the road and so we WALKED everywhere.
We need to address this issue soon. Our little, old Toyota RAV4 is an 'all wheel drive' vehicle, so you need to tow it with a trailer. A trailer means more money. You can't just lift two wheels off the ground and drag it behind the RV. The car has to ride on a trailer.  I could have driven the car over there myself, but then I wouldn't have been WITH THE FAMILY for our trip.
Not having a car became a problem during the four day trip. We basically didn't go anywhere that we couldn't walk to. We set up our rig, talked to the neighbors and walked the dogs.The park was kind of empty. Not a lot of people... but the folks that were there said it was crabbing season and that by the weekend the place would be filled up. So, we stayed where we were.
 The dogs must have eaten something that they shouldn't have because that night Carl threw up four times and then Cutter threw up once... and again the next morning. Fun, fun, fun. Thank goodness the park had a laundry. It was like having kids again. Remember nights with the flu? Remember wondering how they could keep throwing up when they couldn't possibly have anything left inside them?
 Some lady, next to us, said that it might have been the water... that we should always carry our own water with us. We did... for our coffee and drinking.... and the dogs. So I'm thinking that they just found something irresistible out on the trail the first evening. That's dogs for you. Love that yucky stuff. The next day they were fine.
The second day we hiked down to the marina . From the park to the fishing marina was probably a mile and a half and by the time we made this hike... with the dogs... we were wiped out. Carl almost had to be carried back. Poor dog. He doesn't have a tail... but his tail would have been dragging if he'd had one. The dogs and I took a long nap when we got back to the RV.
The caretakers gave us a map with directions on how to hike down to the bay. We followed the trail through two campgrounds, and a service road to arrive here...
This was the RV park we should have stayed at. There were lots of people, and a marina.
The fishing boats were coming in...
and going out.
There was constant activity around the boat dock.
Interesting people.
Lots of crab catching equipment.
Folks digging for clams. Cute boots!

And on lookers waiting for someone to drop something.
Maybe this seagull was going to try and trade that feather for a fish... or maybe he ate another seagull. Yes, they ARE that nasty with each other. They fight all the time, but I think it's more bark (like Carl) than bite.
This one looked old though, so maybe he was just loosing his hair like all old people do.

The walk back to the RV park was a long one, but pretty. From here to the ocean, which we hadn't seen yet, there were sand dunes and it was beautiful to see succulents turning red.
This was looking north along a service road.We weren't sure how far the ocean was but there were "no dogs allowed" signs on the beach trails so we never went down there... but I could hear it roaring. It always roars.
These were two very tired dogs waiting for the door to open so they could go inside and take a nap.

In the evening I took a short walk by myself.
The sun was setting and everything was gold. I saw a dandelion with the last rays of the sun shining on it. I remembered what Dewitt Jones said about finding the possibilities.
He said, "Nature was showing me incredible beauty standing just beyond the rat race saying “Hello, Hello…”
I got down on the ground and shot this image. It's not perfect but it was more about the evening, the light and finding that light behind this "puffball".
"Because, by celebrating the best -- that allows us to fall in love with it, that connects us with our passion, that emancipates the energy. By celebrating what’s right, we find the energy to fix what’s wrong."
I walked back to my husband and the dogs in the twilight and realized that life really is good and that this was an adventure that would become a memory... that would become my life.
This puffball is for you, Mr. Jones.







Sunday, November 17, 2013

Carl tells the story... Guest post

Hi, Carl and Cutter here.
We came home from our first trip to the ocean yesterday. Cutter and I are sitting on the couch with Farmlady. She is having her Latte...
and we are waiting to lick the cup when she is done.
I'm suppose to tell you about our trip first.... so here goes.
We didn't see this coming. I knew something was up when The Prospector drove that big monster thing up the driveway and parked it in front of the house over a week ago.
They bought this noisy thing, "...so we can take trips and bring the dogs with us. "
Well, that's what they did.
They spend the weekend carrying stuff out to the "BUS" and putting food in the refrigerator. All that activity should have been a sure sign that something was up.
On Monday morning they put our leashes on and took us thought the gate. This usually means A WALK. We got all excited. We pee'd on a few bushes and then...it happen. We were lifted into the BUS. We tried to say "No!" , but they didn't listen.
We were kinda trapped.
"Cutter, I think this is something we haven't done before. Be brave and don't whine."
Cutter was being very quiet.
He tried to look out the windows but they were too high. He was trying to be as calm as he could be... and then the Prospector started the engine. That blew our cover. I started barking and Cutter lost it.

I tried to act calm. I gave them my best "excited dog" look and sat on my pillow... on the couch. Every now and then, I would look over at Farmlady. She would smile and say "It's Ok, Carl." That helped.
This was not going to be fun. Then the BUS started to move.
 Cutter lost it completely. I knew he was afraid, but he panicked and tried to get into the Prospector's lap. He hunkered next to the seat and put his head on Prospector's leg. He can be such a wimp. I knew this would happen.
I guess he wasn't watching me. I tried to show him how to be brave but he's a year younger and he gets scared.
After we drove for a long, long time we stopped near a bridge in a place called Vallejo.
 I heard Farmlady say that this was the turn off for Mare Island. I also heard her say that she had to go to the bathroom and there wasn't one around. She was desperate so she climbed over our crates, that we sleep in, and use the BUS bathroom.
They took us for a walk. Then we got back in the BUS, ate some lunch and started moving again.
We drove for a long time. Finally it looked like home... sort of. The road got small and there were not so many car sounds outside.
One time we passed a big truck and I barked at it.
We finally stopped again and this time we stayed in one place. It smelled different.
The Prospector said it was the Bodega Bay RV Park. He did what he called "hooking up the RV". Farmlady was happy because she was smiling. There was water and the bathroom worked. They put our leashes on and took us for a walk. We went down to a place that was enclosed and we got to run around and pee everywhere. I barked at some other dogs and , for the first time , I thought that this place might not be so bad.
That afternoon we took a walk on a trail to a strange place. It was a pole thing in the middle of a rock wall. Farmlady said it had bells hanging from it. She will tell you more later. Cutter and I pee'd on everything.
We got to go outside again after dinner and it was getting kinda dark. We didn't like being outside in the dark.
I threw up four times that night. Cutter threw up once... and again the next day. The Prospector had to wash all of our bedding the next morning. I think it might have been the brown stuff I ate on the trail. It was pretty good going down.
Well, this is only the first day. Things got better after this. We stayed here for three days and then we got to see the Ocean, for the first time. I will let Farmlady tell you all about it.
Now, I have to catch up on my sleep.