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.