Monday, October 16, 2017

Descanso Gardens- Japanese Festival

Yesterday I went out to Descanso Gardens, almost an hour drive, for the Japanese Festival.  I was uncertain before I began the trip. Last year's festival looked wonderful, with taiko and dancers and crafts and speakers.  This year's festival looked a little less exciting, with just taiko and some crafts.

Unfortunately, all the hands on stuff was for kids only, something not noted on the website or schedule of events.

Adults did have SOME options-- at a price-- and nothing I was particularly interested in:

I walked around the garden a bit, but was very disappointed as I ran into so many blue cones where areas were closed.  In some cases, they were closed to prepare for the Enchanted Forest program (a holiday lights program) and in others, probably just because nothing was blooming.

At this point I was pretty much pissed off, and not terribly happy to have invested the time, gas, and ticket price.  As I was leaving, I came across docents at a welcome table, and, in one last ditch effort, asked if there were anything good to see at this time of year in the garden.

these two docents were solely responsible for my day turning around, and having a pretty good time at the garden.

I ended up having a great (and lengthy) talk with the docents, and setting off to see some of the other sights in the garden.  I decided to walk the whole area, all the way back into the mountain view and California native plants before going to the Boddy House and the art gallery (up on what they called "Cardiac Hill".)

Now Descanso Gardens is 85 acres of garden, so it's a lot less in size than El Rancho de las Golondrinas, although the winding paths are probably the same total distance, and I really haven't been walking that long, so about 3/4 the way up to mountain view I started feeling a little winded, but once I got up there, the walk was easy sailing.

On my way up I went through the rose garden, which was almost done blooming, and a lot more sparse than other rose gardens I'd seen locally, and frankly Exposition Park has a MUCH better rose garden.  There were a few things blooming before the rose garden (around the restrooms) and a few areas had potted mums so there were some blooming plants.

Along the path were plenty of rest spots, benches, and observation areas.

some blooms and pumpkins in front of the restrooms

a rosebud in the rose garden

the "Spanish Colonial Fountain" at the end of the rose garden

Mountain View Rest Area

I was rather disappointed in the "lakes"... small ponds with some mallard ducks and a single swan or goose (it was rather far away and in shadow, so hard to tell). The best part of the "lake" was the hawk circling overhead.

There was a rather pleasant surprise:

I rather enjoy things like this. 

On to the Boddy House and the art gallery...
The Boddy House seemed to be closed, the gallery open.

I'll just say that I was less than impressed, and leave it at that.

So, back to the main reason I chose this day to come to the gardens: the Japanese Festival.

I also visited the Japanese Garden, which was rather small, but nowhere near as tiny as South Coast Botanical's Japanese Garden.

I think the spot with the most potential for beauty at the right time of year (aside from perhaps the lilac garden) was this small lotus pond:

a dragonfly perched above the lotus

The area I liked most during the walk was the Ancient Forest.  I think, perhaps, if the grounds weren't so crowded I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more, because there is such a peaceful sense in that part of the garden.  I would have liked to sit in silence there for a while... I admired a woman meditating on a bench.  I know I wouldn't have been able to relax and stay focused with all the people walking by.

In summation:
Will I go back?  No, it simply isn't worth the drive for me.  I have the same kind of garden options (or better) locally, and at lower cost.  I'd been thinking of going to Enchanted Forrest, but after hearing about it, I'm pretty sure after Albuquerque's River of Lights I'd be less than impressed with Enchanted Forrest, especially since it's "stations" and a narrated tour. 
Do I recommend it?  If you're local, yes.  But it may be more worthwhile (if you're willing to pay the extra ticket price) to drive to Huntington Library Gardens instead.

Monday, October 9, 2017

One of Five

illustration: National Audubon Society
This afternoon, around dinner time, I was driving home along route 1 through the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. On the south end of Bolsa Bay, I saw it: a reddish egret.

This is my second spotting of the bird, having confirmed the previous sighting with a naturalist at the Bolsa Chica Conservancy, and learning that there were (at that time) only five of the birds in the entire wetland conservation area.

 It's become the thing I look for when driving through there, much the same as I used to look for dolphins when driving over the intracoastal waterways on the bridges to the barrier islands in Florida:  something that really makes my day, a surprising (but obviously looked for) pleasure.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

These Days

Cinnamon is ready for action today, and so am I.

This morning I ordered my Sonoma County Visitor's Guide, as well as my Petaluma Visitor's Guide.  I always pick up visitors guides, even when I live in a city, because they have a lot of information on events and things to do that can be easily overlooked by the residents.

This morning I also checked out whale watching trips in Northern California.  They're a LOT more expensive than down here, but are often day or half day trips, so I suppose the extra cost is worth it.

The "farewell tour" is back on... in a kind of modified way.  I'm not going to get too upset if I miss some stuff I want to see.  Mostly I'm looking for bargains when it comes to things to see and do here in LA County. 

My first trip will be next weekend, and I'll be going to Descanso Gardens for the Japanese Garden Festival. I can't believe I've been in LA a whole year and had so little taiko in my life.  I've already bought the ticket, so it's a done deal.

I'd missed the drum festival at Watts Towers, although it would have hit a couple things on my to-do list.  I'm feeling pretty run down these days, and I've been spending a LOT of time with the medical tests, so it's been hard to feel like doing much of anything. 

Being back in the action now (although for the next 10 days or so I still have a LOT of medical stuff to deal with) means that I want to do things to be more active... I worry that some of the lethargy I'm currently experiencing may be relieved with better fitness, so I've printed out an exercise schedule for the Lakewood Y.  It's a bit longer of a drive, but our local Y has practically nothing left, and it had very little to start with, so I don't hold out much hope of going there. 

Today, right now, however, I'm heading out to El Dorado Park with the dog, because even Cinnamon needs to be more active.  I imagine it's been rough on her while I'm trying to deal with all of this.  I'm not home as often, and when I am, I'm generally not feeling terribly interested in spending a couple hours at the dog park.  Today I'm going to push a little.

Tomorrow I meet with my hand surgeon, my ophthalmologist, and have to put in some time at school to make up for being out Thursday (after my procedure... I really didn't bounce back from the anesthesia as well this time) and then Tuesday I'll be spending some time getting things together with the Y before class.  Today is the day... at least if I want to allow Cinnamon some serious doggy socializing time (and I do!).

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Falling, but this time into place

I've been trying to find furniture that works for me, and get rid of the plastic stuff I got when I moved in.  At this point, I'm only buying stuff I can (a) move myself and (b) genuinely like.  It's been a dry spell for the last year when it comes to making my home comfortable, but then a number of things happened.  First, I went to work, which means I was able to pay for some things I needed, like car repairs... and second, I had a series of lucky finds when it comes to furniture.

First, it was finding the table I'd had in my wish list for the last few years online for less than half price (BOUGHT!) then finding the pottery barn chair with the bad slipcover (only $15!) and then the small round table for a couple bucks (also at a thrift store, on sale)

For the last few months I've been going back and forth on seating and beds.  I rather like my mattress that I have now, and since it's new, I didn't want to get rid of it. I considered the possibility of moving up to a full/queen bed after the move and putting my twin mattress on a daybed in the living room. Problem:  when my daughter and son-in-law came over, I'd be sleeping in the living room and they'd have my bedroom.  Wasn't thrilled with that. 

The frame I have now under my mattress, however, is problematic.  The legs are not at the edges of the frame, the idea being, I guess, that you won't stub your toe.  It also means two things (1) you can drop it into a standard frame if you take out the slats and (2) if you sit on the edge of the bed right now, it tips over.

I am less than thrilled with #2, although the remedy would be #1.

Plan B:  buy a futon for the living room, and a bed frame to hold my platform bed.

The problem then became financial and stylistic.  I didn't want to spend more than $100 on a futon frame.  I wanted the frame to match my current wood (oak) and I wanted the arms to be curved away from the body of the futon for comfort, and to have solid or slatted arms so that the pillows don't fall through.

That's quite a list, but it showed up on Craigslist this week at about half the price I was willing to pay.  I pick it up tomorrow.

For most people, I guess this is "whoopy-do, buying a used futon".  For me it's a trend of feeling that things are moving forward in making my life now more comfortable, while at the same time preparing for the move.  It just feels like things are really starting to fall into place.

Monday, October 2, 2017


I had to break into my sealed envelope for my security deposit yesterday.  Unfortunately the prescriptions I had to fill (I start prepping today for a medical test Wednesday) aren't fully covered by my Medicare, and Medi-Cal isn't paying the co-pays. I'll pay back into it tomorrow when I get my check. It's all just bad timing.

Yesterday I also got a letter about "changes to my coverage".  I must point out that said "letter" came in the form of an 85 page 8.5 x 11 inch book.  Of course, open enrollment is coming up, but it'd be hard to change coverage and doctors in the middle of everything.


Medical care wasn't this hard 30 years ago.  I didn't have to think much about it.  If I, or the kids, needed to see a doctor, we went.  My insurance covered most things, Medicaid covered the kids, and the rest was affordable, no matter how bad my insurance was at the time.  There were no waits for specialists.  I never had to decide whether or not it was more important to eat or see a doctor, and never had to juggle whether or not to go to the doctor, to urgent care, or to the ER in case of a serious accident or illness.

I've never understood having a system in place where the sick and elderly have less coverage and pay higher costs than the healthy, especially when the sick and elderly have been paying taxes and medicare during their times of health, and those now healthy will eventually also have to rely on those government programs to some degree.


Right now health and finances (and how the two are linked) are big issues for me as I continue to go through these medical tests, some routine, others not routine at all. 

It seems this summer's job has gone to pay (in part) for two things: The car repairs and the dog's medical care, both of which have not only eaten up the most part of my summer earnings, but have left me in additional debt. 

After Petaluma, when the car goes, it's gone. Walkability is one of the big selling points for me when it comes to the apartments in Petaluma.  Getting rid of the car would put another $120/ month or so back into my budget, at my current rate of gas usage and insurance cost.  And of course, no maintenance and repair expenses.

Hopefully Cinnamon will remain well enough that her medical costs will be minimal, but I'll have the Care Credit paid off by January, and will have that as backup.

Every move I make feels a little more scary.  I've never actually been to Petaluma, on the other hand, I'd never been to Albuquerque or Santa Fe, and used the same methods to decide on my move there as I have the Petaluma move, and I was pretty darn happy in New Mexico.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Falling Flat

Back when I lived in New Mexico, this would be one of my favorite times of year for photography.  Red and green chilies, the yellow of chamisa, bright orange pumpkins... and of course, the cranes starting to arrive. 

Ah, the cranes!  There was never a time when I got bored of seeing them.  Any crane photo was a good crane photo.  There was just something about the sand hills for me.

When I got here to California, I felt that way about photographing the great blue herons... for all of about three weeks. 

In part, it's the knowledge that my Fuji underwater camera just doesn't focus well on any setting, and that giving up a good lens and a higher zoom for being able to take some pretty good photos underwater was simply NOT the right choice for me, since I very seldom submerge my camera, and am increasingly unlikely to.

In part, it's just that there simply aren't many birds that bring the same excitement, the excitement I feel when I photograph whales now, although I've been increasingly disappointed with my camera there.

These days I find myself taking photos...truly awful photos... with my phone.  I'm posting to Instagram.  I figure if the photos have to be bad, they might as well be somewhere they're expected to be bad.  Somewhere they're telling a story, not preserving a memory.

I have another camera on my Amazon wish list.  Nothing super-fancy.  An older model with features I prefer.  But where until last year I would have put "camera" on the very top of my list of things to get (and sacrifice to get it) I now worry that it's not just the camera that's fallen flat here, or if I'm just too sick and tired and frustrated to continue to look for opportunities to take photos.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Today was a rough day. I woke up feeling fine, but over the next couple hours became more and more fatigued, despite doing only the most basic things: Showering. Walking the dog (only to the back of the apartment!). Making and eating breakfast. After a few hours I was in serious pain, but also had enough strength that I went out and did the laundry.

 Yesterday was a very different day. I took the energy I had yesterday to volunteer at a food pantry and run out to Fountain Valley to a thrift store to try to find some fall/winter clothes. Which is, no doubt, why I'm struggling today.

Every day is a choice, every thing I do an investment that has to be paid for.  Yes, many days I do things that require a lot of energy, a lot of "spoons".  For me, one good day spent doing something that brings me (or others) joy followed by a few days of pain and exhaustion are better than spending every day in bed.

One of the really exhausting things I've stopped doing in my day to day life is to apologize for having good days, for taking advantage of being relatively pain free or more mobile for the hours I am.   I won't apologize for carrying my own groceries, knowing the next day I may not be able to.  Won't apologize for going on a walk through the nature center, knowing that the next day I'll be relying on my cane to get around the house in the morning.  Won't apologize for living my life, and spending my spoons as I see fit, rather than trying to hoard them as if I could save up enough to trade them in for the remainder of life in good health.

And honestly? I get a little sick and tired about all the judgement.

I get it. I do.  We're a species that relies heavily on vision, and what we "see with our own eyes" is often extrapolated from in a way that's considerably less than objective.  This is where awareness comes in.  It's about actually KNOWING something about what's actually happening, and NOT relying on a few moments of visual information to form an opinion. It's about expanding our schema to include things we haven't, ourselves, experienced and understanding that other people may have experiences that are foreign to us.

 Learn more about judgement, stigma, and invisible illnesses from the Invisible Illness Association

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Walk Petaluma

Places I'm likely to go within a mile of my apartment:

Trader Joe's, Safeway, Sprouts, Raleys

General Shopping:
Target, Ross, Petco, Petsmart

Lynch Creek Trail, Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, Petaluma Community Center, Lucchesi Park, Petaluma Regional Library


LabCorp, Petaluma Valley Hospital, Lynch Creek Way Imaging Lab, Petaluma Family Medicine

Other locations: 
My bank is also a mile walk, the AAA is a block away (of course, if I'm walking, why would I need the Automobile Association?), and two buses stop directly across the street from the apartment.

Unfortunately I'd have to take a bus downtown to go to a movie theater.

On the other hand, a monthly bus pass is $15 for Petaluma Transit.  The County bus also is directly across the street, and a monthly county bus pass is $31.  And Golden Gate Transit also has buses through Petaluma.  PLUS there's the new SMART station is down at the end of the street I live on (city bus)  I think buses will be confusing until I get the hang of all the buses that have Petaluma as part of the route.

The thing I can't do on foot or with public transportation (unless, maybe, I take a train down) is whale watch.  Nor would I be able to get to Windrush Farms without a car, nor would I be able to get to Petaluma Adobe, both of which are within a half hour drive... as is the Planet Fitness in Rohnert Park... not that they're listed as a Silver Sneakers participant anyway...

So now I have a big choice to make, because I'm almost to the point where I'm ready to give up the car and save the money.  I can buy both the county and the city bus passes for about what I spend on a tank of gas, not to mention what I'd be saving in insurance, AAA, and maintenance.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

It's only a matter of time

The apartments I've been dreaming of for the last few years now has a wait list rather than just calling in and hoping to get lucky.  That gives me more hope, because it means it's just a matter of time (not luck).

The car is repaired, the hitch installed, and tomorrow the security deposit will set aside.  Then it's just a matter of the application fee and the gas and motel to get  up there a couple times to do paperwork.

If worse comes to worse, I do have a car credit card I can use for gas (but don't like paying the interest on it unless I absolutely have to!)

I have to admit, I'm a little worried about moving 38 miles from San Francisco with North Korea already covering almost a quarter the distance with their missiles.  I've been checking different bomb sizes on NUKEMAP and I'm feeling pretty confident Petaluma would be OK in a North Korean strike.  

And who ever thought we'd even have to think about this again anyway? I remember being a school kid during the Cold War and having to go out into the halls and crouch against the walls covering my head.  "Air Raid Drill"... of course we just did it, never thought about how absolutely useless that drill would be if we were ground zero of a nuclear attack.

I can't waste a lot of time and effort worrying about that.  Right now I'm just wondering which stage of the complex I'll be moving into.  There are two stages to the property and the layouts are a bit different between them:

I kinda like the extra space you get at II, but like the layout of I better, with the little galley kitchen and the bathroom off the bedroom rather than the entryway.  Of course, 50 some odd square feet extra is nothing to sneeze at, but I also don't understand what appears to be two storage areas off the patio rather than one, and would prefer the patio off the living room than the bedroom.   This is just a really wonky design... but a wonky design with lots of storage and space.  The finishes are also better in the second apartment...

Well, we'll see when I get there!  

Monday, September 11, 2017

No Cal. Park Plans

I like to plan trips wherever I go.  This morning I'm compiling a list of Northern California places of interest.

LAKE SHASTA CAVERNS NATIONAL NATURAL LANDMARK  What can I say? Forest, lake, cave (I do like caves!)  It's a bit of a trip, but looks like it could be worth it.  The only problem is, they may not take my National Parks Pass, because National Natural Landmarks could be under private ownership.  Certainly the website is privately owned, although there is a listing for the site in the NPS page.

Lava Beds National Park  lava tubes! Bats! Lava fields!

Muir Woods (so long as I don't run into any talking apes!)

There's also some really oddball stuff in the far northwest corner of the state, up around Eureka, including The Trees of Mystery, The Bigfoot Museum, and the Tour Through Tree, but those are a heck of a drive for a day trip.

I'll definitely plan on Petaluma Adobe State Park, and look forward to some sort of involvement with Windrush Farm, the local wool farm.  In anticipation of that, I think I'll probably make myself a new malacate.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


My life has taken a sudden detour.

It does that sometimes.  But this one could be massive.  I'm gearing up for change, even while holding on to the possibility of sameness.
I start whale watch program again in October.  I go back to being a docent at the aquarium in two weeks.  I'm taking a class in ceramics, and doing some painting.

It all feels very normal, except for the awareness of fragility.

I'm once again waiting to hear back from doctors, this time, not for a positive diagnosis, which I have, but to look at possible outcomes and time frames.  I'm still calling Petaluma to try to get into that apartment.  I'm thinking more seriously of going back to Santa Fe and just surrendering to it all.

Like any detour, I have no idea where I'm going.  I know what my goal is, but I can only follow the new twists and turns and hope that I don't stray off the new paths being laid down in front of me, that I don't find myself farther from my goals and dreams.

So for a while, at least, there will be whales, there will be museums, there will be zoos.  But there will also be gaps while I'm dealing with all the other things... times when I'm off the map trying to get to someplace that's either familiar or en route to the future I choose for myself.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

In the lull between whales

I see this image every day.  I use it as the lock screen background on my phone.  I am reminded just how amazing and weird whales are.

These days the humpbacks and fins are north of the OC... north of LA... up around Monterey Bay.  They'll have to head back down this way in a few weeks, but until then, I haven't been out on the boats.  The Matt Walsh (out of Marina del Rey) is docked for repairs in September, so I won't be going out as a naturalist on any boats after Sunday, my last chance until Gray Whale Migration, and out of the OC, where I'm least likely to see any of the big baleen whales.

Groupon has $7.50 whale watches out of San Pedro on a boat with Aquarium of the Pacific naturalists.  I'm thinking of picking up a few tickets, which are good up to 120 days, against when the baleens start moving south again.

Today, however, I'm starting my "lull between whales" activities:  First real day of classes at City College (I'm taking a ceramics class) and tomorrow I have two different sets of medical imaging studies to be done.  I'm more than a little worried about both, but mostly I want to get as much medical stuff out of the way as possible before things get busy for me again.

At this point I'm in a holding pattern for the move.  I've priced out trailers and boxes and mattress bags at Uhaul.  I've got my hitch receiver installed.  I've budgeted money to put aside for a security deposit, which I'll have in full on Sept 15th.  I'm waiting for an open apartment, and getting ready to pack.  Part of me is sad I'm leaving.  I love the ocean... not so much the beach... definitely not the big city.

Last night I dreamed I was back in Santa Fe.  I had gone to a gallery on Canyon Road, and was surprised to see that there had been some of my work there, but that it had sold.  When they went through their records, they had sold a lot of my work, all beautiful soft landscapes from my travels... and I remembered painting none of them.

I've been thinking a lot about landscapes recently-- and the places I've seen.  But I've been more focused on the ceramics I have opportunities to work with for the next 6 months.   I may have to move up my time frame for getting paints and start doing some of those landscapes.  If I loose a lot of mobility in my left hand, I may be grateful to have another art form (than ceramics) to work with in the near future.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Moving (Forward)

I think this is kind of a segue post. It really holds little interest, even to me, except to explain the changes in my life and the stories I'm telling, whereas I've been concentrating on the places I've seen and the things I'm doing (whale watching, naturalist work, and photos relating to tourist destinations) I'm now moving into a time where I'm once again more acutely involved with financial and health matters.  Hopefully I can get my MRI scheduled and that will lay some of the health issues at rest. I've also come to understand that this is likely the end of my working in clay, because of the condition of my left hand, and my choice NOT to have cortisol shots in my hand that may make future shots in other locations less effective, and may be risky for the functioning of my hand anyway.  

My hand is the least of my concerns right now.  I'm used to pain.  Right now I'm focused very narrowly on the Petaluma move.  Right now I'm getting ready, making ready to jump when the opportunity presents itself. 


I've learned to prepare for the future in bits and chunks, grabbing on to bits and pieces when they become available, then holding on to that against the time when I can put it all into play.

Which basically means saving up and taking baby steps toward the move.

Today I'm getting a trailer hitch put on my car, something I'd planned to do two years ago and never was able to afford to do.  Now I have furniture that I don't want to lose in a move.  I've made it a point these last few years to buy things that are light weight, that come apart, or that pack small.  Everything can be moved by me alone, with the help of a dolly.

I am not moving next week, or the week after that, or likely the week after that.  I'm waiting for the apartment I want, and my next paychecks will be devoted almost solely to the security deposit and moving expenses.  I know it's not going to be enough.   I have to balance my needs NOW with my plans for THEN.  Of course, one of my NOW needs is to make it until THEN.

The farewell tour has been put on hold due to financial and health constraints.  I am surprisingly OK with that.  The only place I really feel an urgency to see before I leave is the L.A. Zoo, and there's plenty of time.

I've also invested in a class at City College.  I plan to use up my 75 lbs of micaceous clay this semester, as well as to make a number of high fire pieces.  Hopefully I'll have enough to sell at the Makers Market at the aquarium in November.  I keep thinking I'll be moving between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that's not a time a lot of people move out of their homes.  I'm more likely looking at late spring, which bothers me quite a bit, but I'm comforted somewhat knowing that I'll be here for another gray whale migration season.

Looking at all this I realize now why I'm stressed:  Work, school, volunteer work, planning a move, trying to put aside money, and struggling with what little money I do have.   Things aren't going poorly at this point, they're just slow, chaotic, and not at all restful as I'd hoped.  This isn't a bad thing. I just need to adjust my expectations.

Friday, August 25, 2017

In Case of Emergency

Over the last couple months I've thought a lot about emergency situations.  Saber rattling with Korea, the threat of earthquakes... whatever.   When I lived in Florida, the idea of having to evacuate quickly was a given.  I had a "hurricane bag", containing extra bedding, non-perishable food items, water, flashlight and batteries, a book and a deck of cards,  as well as all of my important papers, which I always kept in zip lock bags to keep them waterproof.

Since moving away from Florida, I've let a lot of that go.  But now I wonder what to grab, and how quickly I could grab things, should my home be crumbling or burning.

Recently I've been seeing these ads all the time on Facebook for "The Earthquake Bag":

Today I finally clicked on the link to look into it.  Basically, it's a backpack, with a cheap plastic fold up poncho, a small first aid kit, a flashlight radio, an oil lamp, a travel grooming kit, work gloves, a small sewing kit, and some water in pouches.  This particular kit is about $105, but they offered me a $10 coupon on the site.

Now I'm pretty darn sure I can do a lot better than that.  I'm going to pass on the hazard tape and the tube tent, because honestly? there's no way I'd try to sleep in a tube tent during an emergency, I'd sack out in my car, which is much more secure.

So, lets start with the most expensive items on there:

Emergency hand crank and solar powered flashlight/radio with charger for $15.98.  Not sure why I'd need this, since I have a cell phone, battery charger, and an electric battery operated lantern at home I could keep in a bag.  The phone alone has everything I'd need as far as light and information in an emergency, unless the cell towers were down...then information would have to come from my car radio.

First aid kit.   They one they offer looks pretty dinky, and I already have one in my car, but I can get a great 75 piece first aid kit for $6.43  I may pick that up just to keep handy, or I can grab the medical supply box and medicines kits I keep on the shelf in the hall.

Rain tote:  $5.21.   I probably wouldn't be caught dead in this thing.

10 piece travel kit (more than enough grooming supplies) $5.97  Because you can't get out of town fast enough to buy toothpaste?  I don't know.  I generally keep one in the apartment anyway just for convenience when I take long trips. 

Water, well, let's get a whole 24 bottle flat of water for under $3.

Work gloves (why?) I can get something like the gloves shown for $2.94  I might buy more work gloves.  Mine are pretty uncomfortable.

Sewing kit: $4.21.   Since my arthritis is so bad, I don't even use my current sewing kit, which has a lot more stuff in it, including big eye needles I can use when I do have some grip.  I'll use my own.

So I could make a much BETTER kit, even if I were to start from scratch (which I don't need to) for somewhere around $40, not including the backpack, which, of course, wouldn't fit all that much water, but I could get a few bottles in there and leave the rest in my car.

As for the backpack itself, I don't expect I'd ever spend $60 on a backpack, and have a really great one I use for heavy duty packing that I got at a thrift store for about $5... and since it's a high end Oasis, I feel confident it'd stand up to emergency usage.

I can't help but wonder why someone would pay all that money for one of these "emergency kits" when they can do so much better on their own.  At the same time, seeing the ads has made me reconsider how I place things in my home, and where I should keep my bags for packing things in a hurry. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse, and 2024 Homecoming.

The skies cleared over Long Beach just in time for the eclipse.  I held my spare solar viewing glasses over my camera and snapped a shot:

I couldn't help but notice that our next eclipse, in 2024, has a path of totality that takes it directly over my hometown.

I may be heading back to the east coast in 7 years.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


A number of things have happened today.

First,that little whale that has been traveling around Newport Beach, and had been driven out of the harbor into the open ocean, is now perking up a little and swimming "laps" around the LA Harbor after being rescued from another location, where the water was too shallow for him to swim.


Until it was moved into open water, there was social media silence on the whereabouts of the whale, for the whale's well-being.

The whale is very thin, has not been observed eating, and has a long way to go to join other Gray Whales up near the Alaskan feeding grounds.  The whales will start their migration again down the coast in another few months.

The second bit of news is a little more uplifting for me.  Recently I posted about seeing a reddish egret in the wetlands along route 1.  I was pretty sure of what I saw, at the same time, had to admit to some skepticism since the bird was out of its normal range.   Today I had one of the Bolsa Chica Wetland Reserve Docents as a guest at one of my marine mammal lectures, and we had a long time to talk, since she and her husband came to a lecture long before the boat left.  After we discussed the mammals, and she mentioned her docent position, I asked about the bird I saw, and yes, she confirmed that there are currently 5 reddish egret in the wetlands this mating season.

I've now decided to add photographing some of the birds at the Bolsa Chica Wetlands as one of the items on my farewell tour.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Farewell Tour: Balboa Peninsula, Newport Beach

Today, working down on the Peninsula, I suddenly realized that while I'd photographed some of the boats and the water, I hadn't really photographed the area that was dedicated to tourism down on the Peninsula.  Some of the shops are really struggling, and as winter comes on, they know they'll be facing a lean time.  For some reason, summer is the tourist season there.  

The sale of the Balboa Fun Zone to Discovery Cube is a great opportunity for both the residents and The Cube.  If they can make this a destination, if they can walk that fine line between history/ tradition and a modernized attraction, then can save a lot of businesses, a lot of jobs, and make a lot of money.

Today I've photographed the area as it is, complete with the disappearing and changing buildings, signage, and shops.

Hello from the Farewell Tour

Well, I ran out of photo space pretty quick over at Wordpress, so I added the posts I've done this summer to my Archives Site on Wordpress, and here I am, home on Blogger, where I'm pretty sure I can blog for years without running out of space for my pictures.

The sad part of all this is that I can't automatically post to my Facebook account here, but some things have to be borne.  I also don't have the cool theme options, but what I have will work out fine, I'm sure.

So, the Farewell Tour:  If you've been a member of THIS blog and not THAT blog (the Wordpress version) then you may need some catching up.

Yes, I'm in Los Angeles County, in Long Beach to be specific, and my hopes for Long Beach and the optimism I'd had were pretty much in vain.  I am less than happy here, although my medical needs are finally being met.   I have better options both for my living arrangements and my medical care in Sonoma County (Petaluma)  and am preparing to move there as soon as an apartment becomes available in my target complex.

So at this point, I'm tying up loose ends in LA, seeing the things I want to see before I go.  Recently it was a tour of the museums downtown:  The LaBrea Tar Pits, the LA County Museum of Art, The Museum of Natural History, the Science Museum, and, while I was in Exposition Park, the rose garden.  Shortly before that it was the South Coast Botanical Gardens.  I'll be continuing to post the Farewell Tour, as well as some of my other activities, and likely, now that things have heated up beyond my ability to keep silent, a lot more political ramblings.