Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Looking Back

A smattering of some old favorite photos:

dancer from a folk music program in Albuquerque
Dancers at a program at the Albuquerque BioPark

Taylor on the set of the bridge of the Enterprise in the (no longer in existence) Hollywood Film Museum
the girls on the beach in Florida with a Christmas tree (2004)

Ellen and Carlos's wedding

me in Santa Fe, dreaming of Petaluma

Cinnamon when I first brought her home

stinky corpse flower Tay and I went to see in Denver

Civil War Reenactor during Battle of Glorietta Pass reenactment at El Rancho de las Golondrinas


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Other People's Fault

There was a lot I wanted to write about today.  I was going to write a post on "Peer Review and Faith", or one on "Meeting You Halfway Means Giving Up Half of My Principles" or "The Stick is Just a Stick Until You Hit Someone With It".  There is a lot I want to write today, but what it all really boils down to is avoiding recognizing personal responsibility where it challenges the view of the self as "ethical".
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Today was challenging for me. I heard what I found to be the most horrendous sermon I'd ever listened to, right after signing membership to the church.  And while the congregation loved this woman, I was not at all impressed.  Now, in all fairness, the woman who spoke had been a member of the community, and perhaps people in the congregation knew her, loved her, and understood where she was coming from differently than I did from her (unprepared, off the cuff) sermon.  On the other hand, there were so many times I wanted to just stand up and walk out, that I still have a tightness in the jaw just thinking about it. 

Talking to one of the congregants afterwards, I told her I was not impressed, and quoted Asimov's statement about being entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts, after which the congregant responded that even facts are filtered though different understandings.  So I told her the fabulous whale story (from yesterday's post) after which she tightly said that absolutely could not have happened, because whales couldn't possibly breach in shallow water.

I also had a conversation about plastic (one of many these past weeks) where plastic pollution was blamed on people who throw out plastic instead of recycling.

THAT was something I'd heard over and over again... one of many statements : science was to blame for creating plastics, scientists should have known it was not a great idea to create a material that would last virtually forever, and people who use and throw single use plastics out are the problem, and they need to be educated about reducing their dependency on single use plastics, and to stop using them (and tossing them in the garbage) because it's convenient.

Of all the things I discuss when talking about plastic pollution, confronting the myth that single use consumer plastics are the number one source of plastic pollution in the world is the one that meets with the most resistance. 

One of the things I find in some far left liberal circles (and I've recently discovered there are, indeed, people even farther left than I am) is the set of ideas and behaviors which are very likely to feed into the right's concept of "the liberal elite":  people who are certain they only need to educate people to do as they do and the world would be a much better place, while at the same time stating they honor diversity and are culturally sensitive.  Now some of that liberal ideology comes in the form of actually having a first-rate intellect, and some of it, I believe, comes in the deep seated denial that we are ALL part of the problem.

Now I can go off on microplastics and their sources here, but the report Primary Microplastics in the Ocean  does it in 47 pages of detail. And I can go off on what is ACTUALLY the primary source of macroplastic waste in the ocean, but there's an extremely readable article from National Geographic that explains it very well.

But what I DO want to say is that while we condemn plastic bags and plastic bottles and plastic straws (all which DO present immediate danger to wildlife and DO contribute to over-all plastic pollution) we seem to forget that every piece of clothing we own that contains acrylic, nylon, spandex, acetate, or polyester are PLASTICS.  That our Formica counter tops are PLASTIC.  That our paint on our walls and our vinyl flooring is PLASTIC. That the tires on our cars (and much of the vehicle itself, from the seats to the hoses to much of the body) whether or not they are electric vehicles,  are PLASTIC. That the medical supplies we use, from the bags of saline, to our disposable tubing and hypodermics, to the containers that keep them sterile are PLASTIC.

And that it is not a group of people who fail to put plastic bottles in the recycle bin, or live in communities who do not recycle who are the greatest contributors to plastic pollution, but US.  Every single consumer, and the more you consume, the more often we redecorate, buy new clothes, repaint your house, or drive down the road, the greater  the contribution to plastic pollution on the planet.

Of course, we should be recycling plastic bottles. But to sit here in a polyester shirt and a cotton/polyester blend pair of jeans and point fingers at people who use single use plastics is the very height of hypocrisy.  Solving the plastic problem is going to take admitting we are a part of it, and that it's not just other people's fault.

Now I've gone very far from the "stick is a stick until you hit someone with it" part of this blog, in which I really wanted to focus on the common misconception of what science is, and whether or not knowledge can be evil in itself.  That's going to have to be a whole 'nother blog post.  But in part, it's all part of the same thing:  pointing the fingers at scientists and saying : you developed this stuff, you're the ones to blame.   That, and the one thing that really irks me when discussing literature: the misconception that Mary Shelly's Frankenstein was a condemnation of science, when she very purposefully used the same language Percy was using in describing his sociological theories.  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Fantastic Whale Story

I was going to title this "Magical Realism, Memory, and Aging", but decided the story itself was too wonderful, and needed to separate my understanding of the story (and criticism, because in retrospect picking the story apart for all the impossibilities just ruins an absolutely lovely tale).

Yesterday I was in the parking lot.  I don't remember why.  It isn't important.  I met a woman there. I do remember her name, and I do remember her dog's name, which is extraordinary, but then so was her story, which also makes her unforgettable.

We had been talking for some time, and we had been discussing the things I had seen, planned to see, and should see since I've moved here.  She was well traveled (a former flight attendant) and we had been talking about the country in general before narrowing it down to Sonoma County, and, inevitably, that I'd been planning to go to the shore to see some whales before the migration ended.

And she told me this story, which keeps playing around in my head... and which I want to some day paint... and which turned my world upside down because I know it's not even close to possible, but it was told as a memory-- her very real memory-- of her honeymoon decades before.

Here is her tale:

My husband and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon. It was all very beautiful and romantic.  One day we were on the shore, very near the water, dancing on the sand.  There was no music playing, the only music was in our heads, and we were dancing.

Suddenly there was a loud roar, and a whale jumped out of the water right near us.  My husband held on to me very tightly, because it made a huge wave like a tidal wave, and there was nowhere for us to go.  The whale almost hit us as it came down, and suddenly we were in the water.  I don't know how long.  We weren't separated because my husband held me so tightly, but when we came up we didn't know where we were.  We were in the middle of the ocean.  Then suddenly the water went woosh, and we were pulled under again, and washed up on the beach, still holding on to each other, sputtering water.

My husband stood and helped me to my feet, and brushed himself off and said "I guess Poseiden didn't want us. The sea spat us out" and he laughed.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Paint Night with Art2Nite

Clementine, from Art2Nite
So I haven't done much painting at home. Some people look for time to paint.  I don't start enjoying it until I make myself sit down, which is the hard part. So I thought it would be fun to go out and paint... no pressure to produce a masterpiece... in a social atmosphere.

I've always been curious about some of the paint night style events, where it's a bit of paint, a bit of drinking, a bit of socializing. It looked like fun, so when I saw that a paint night group was doing koi fish, I decided I'd go.

We had our paint night at Jamison's Roaring Donkey in downtown Petaluma.  Jamison's has a reputation all it's own (good/ popular) but isn't my cup of tea... or margarita, or particularly good wine. It is, however, all about beer and whisky.  I ended up ordering a 7&7 and settled down to paint.

The paintings are simple, step by step, and have a bit of a folk art feel to them.  For me the 7&7 was an important part of painting, because I have a terrible habit of overthinking, which makes me fussy and detail oriented, which isn't what you want in a simple, folk art type painting.  So yeah, there were people there who had never painted before with amazing koi, and all I could think was that my whiskers were in the wrong place, and I didn't have the contrast I wanted in the background.  Then I did the #1 thing NOT to do with paint night social paintings: I went home and fussed with it, which only improved it marginally.

Now I have to say, I see paintings from paint nights all over thrift shops and even up for sale on the internet, so it's NOT about creating a masterpiece, but I DO suggest that if you're going to do it, pick something you want to keep/ hang in your home.  You're not going to get another original painting at that price, and the experience is well worth it.

so yeah, I've got an art degree and my own paints, easel, and surfaces at home, but I'm going to another paint night with this group, because May 3rd Art2Nite will be doing that cute rooster picture that would look great in my kitchen, and they'll be at Hotel Petaluma, with Clementine once again running the event.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Petaluma Adobe State Park

I went for the sheep shearing.  I ended up staying on to demonstrate spinning and carding.

I did get several pictures around the adobe, as well as the sheep shearing itself (done with electric shears.)   Best part about Petaluma Adobe was the group of staff and volunteers that made the day amazing!

Once again I took far too many photos to just upload them here, so I've made up a slideshow of the day:





Of course this reminded me of the wonderful time I had volunteering at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. Choosing Petaluma as my home was influenced by the presence of this park so nearby, and I look forward to being a volunteer there in the future.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Time Flies

I've been settling in to my new apartment, slowly making it mine. I've got a new cover for my chair on order, got some white paint for my damaged little oak end table which is now out on the patio, awaiting a white chair and a blue and white rug (the first I plan to pick up tomorrow, the other on order from Overstock.com and arriving in about 10 days).  I've got a folding table temporarily set up in the living room to do some painting, something I've been wanting to get to, until I can get a nicer desk/ table for general work.

It's raining again, which has canceled my planned trip to Bodega Head tomorrow, but hopefully won't cancel sheep shearing at Petaluma Adobe on Saturday.  My calendar is beginning to fill up, mostly with pleasant things, although I do have some medical appointments coming up.  Right now it's more about bingo in the community room on Wednesdays, various local events, including Butter and Egg Days later this month, and I've actually gotten a Groupon and finally signed up for a paint night at a local bar.

Cinnamon also seems to have adjusted.  She loves the new dog park and is more energetic than I've seen her in a while. We've met new people (and new dogs) and gone new places, and some of the park trails here allow leashed dogs, so I'll be taking her on some fun walks out on some of the local trails.

It hasn't been all smooth. I'm still having trouble with getting my medical transferred in from Long Beach, although I got a call today that says they're (finally) starting the process.  That's good, because I had a ton of blood drawn today for various tests, a couple imaging studies coming up in the next two weeks, and I've been referred to a surgeon.

But for the most part, I feel like I'm finding my way here and finding my niche with only a few bumps and adjustments. I'm still shocked by how rural the area is, but seeing all the open space, driving by all the wildflowers (especially those bright orange clumps of wild poppies), it makes me feel glad to be out where there's so much green, and everything isn't manicured back or paved over.

These last two days the hummingbird baby I'd been watching has left it's nest and started venturing into the trees and bushes around the courtyard.  I think I know how he feels.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Fools

Every year I find some of the most enjoyable posts on April Fools Day.  The best ones are the ones you have to do a double take on... a "wait, what?" moment where you're almost hooked.  Then there are the ones that are outrageous from the get go, but the article written has so many hidden little gems that you can't help but laugh out loud.

This year April Fools Day falls on (Western) Easter (Easter in the Eastern Orthodox churches is next week), and as an atheist, I'll have to bite my tongue about resurrection jokes (Stephen Colbert went there during one of his "First Drafts" Segments) and this year, once again, I'll skip my tired, old, conversion April Fools posts.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the fun and amazing posts I'm seeing around the web today, so this post will evolve during the day, as I find and add more and more articles from around the web.




Jelly Vue Glasses from Monterey Bay Aquarium.

"Seamlessly integrated with their popular Jelly Cam livestream, JellyVue™ glasses promise to help alleviate stressful real-world situations with the soothing pulses of the Aquarium’s sea nettles."

“First of all, JellyVue™ is not AR, or VR. It’s a proprietary tech we call CnidoSight™, which is basically a 100% opaque projection of the Jelly Cam directly into your field of vision. Operating heavy machinery with JellyVue™ is definitely not recommended.”



Gulls Aim for Humans When They Poop,  Hakai Magazine

A new study published this week in the journal Fecal News suggests Brown is right. The researchers found that eight times out of 10, glaucous-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) specifically aim for human heads when they defecate above land. The other 20 percent of the time, they simply can’t hold it long enough to find an unsuspecting human, possibly because they’ve indulged in too many French fries, the authors posit in the paper.

*DO click the link for Fecal News






This next one took me by surprise yesterday, when I googled directions from my phone and Waldo peeked out from the edge of the ap. Because I was in Petaluma, and because I knew that we have a "Where's Waldo" as part of the up and coming Butter and Egg Day events (there are Where's Waldo signs in many storefronts, labeling places kids can come and search for Waldo to win a prize), I assumed this was a local phenomena. It is not. 

Google maps now includes a game of "Where's Waldo".  If you click on Waldo when you open Google Maps (he'll lean out of the upper right side of your screen) you'll be taken to an option to play a game of Where's Waldo.

This does NOT interfere with the functionality of Google maps, but does take you away from your map to play the game.



"...Following these new insights about the health and happiness of canines, eharmony will be offering new features to make meeting suitable mates easier and less stressful. Based on the algorithms eharmony uses to create highly compatible relationships for humans, the new “Furever Love” Canine Compatibility Companion Service helps users create robust profiles for their pups based on key dimensions of personality that predict the most compatible, highly successful, long-term relationships."

"...
eharmony will be expanding the new offering in coming months to other animals, such as cats, rabbits, horses, sea lions, and dolphins."



Planet Fitness, Terrain Tread treadmill (YouTube)





Think Geek is getting into the fun with a number of fake products.  Here are a few of my favorites:




an interesting footnote here, one of last year's April Fools jokes was so popular, they made it into an actual item:


I doubt very much that they'll be able to do that with this year's bluetooth enabled pet rock.







I could go on and on, but there are several other lists of April Fools jokes on the web, including this one at the Washington Post (no kidding!)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Rush Creek, Interupted

This morning I started out on a hike with some of the members of the UU Church here in Petaluma.  I say "started", because one of the joys of chronic illness is that *it happens. I wasn't even a mile into the hike when I realized I had to go back.  A friend took me back by way of a coffee shop, which I was glad to have seen, because I think Cailin would LOVE the place, and I certainly wouldn't mind having a breakfast there sometime with their selection of wonderful teas.

But that's neither here nor there, because the short time I DID spend at Rush Creek has me looking forward to going back on a day when I'm feeling well enough to dare to leave my home.

So, the photos...


Rush Creek Preserve is a tidal mudflat and a Marin County Open Space.  In the short time I was there, I was treated to a variety of wildlife, especially birds.


Sadly, my underwater camera is not up to the task of getting really GOOD bird photos, but I can identify birds from some of the really bad shots like this one, where I was looking at the bird in the center closest to shore.  As bad as it is, this enlargement is enough to identify the bird:


This is an American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)


photo from The American Audubon Society Webpage


There were plenty of familiar birds, even a couple who got close enough for me to get a halfway decent picture of:
red wing blackbird

snowy egret

For me, a lot of the pleasure came from just being out in the beautiful green unspoiled spaces.


and that pleasure was multiplied a little way up the trail, when a couple mule deer came out of the woodland into the meadow in clear view of the trail.



Once again my camera was unequal to the task, but an enlargement of the deer on the right was surprisingly clear in a blurry background:


Rush Creek allows hiking with leashed dogs, and since Cinnamon is good around the other animals, I'm thinking of taking her when I go back, hopefully later this month.

Folly and Modern Society

This morning this book came up on my free list. I read it years ago during a class called "Luther vs. Erasmus" in college. I find it rather amusing that it should pop up right now, although considerably less amusing that the long list of platforms where this book is free does not include Kindle.

The book (and some of other of Erasmus' writings) likely would have gotten him excommunicated from the church if he weren't such a vocal opponent of Luther.

The story is more a series of arguments between two people, one, a woman (and therefore foolish in the understanding of scripture and church tradition in the eyes of the public) and a rigidly dogmatic cleric, who, it quickly becomes apparent, is lacking in any real understanding of the dogma he clings to, while the woman presents intelligent, well thought out argument to the contrary.

Here the "folly" is the questioning or opposing that which been unquestioningly  accepted by society.  In this case, it refers back to I Corinthians 4:10:
We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.  {KJV}

Of course, this goes for all sorts of dogmatic thought, including political thought and various causes.  It's easy to believe that this sort of dogmatic and blind adherence is the realm of the right wing, the evangelicals, the ultra-conservatives, but it's not unique to the far right, but exists on the far left as well.

Most people consider me to be "very liberal" or "far left leaning", and in recent years, I've begun to see myself that way as well, but recently I've been coming up against a lot of dogmatic liberals who very much cling to ideas that are not supported by rationalism where it comes to such topics as environmental science, social justice, and human equality, but who, in the face of overwhelming peer reviewed evidence, don't want to even LOOK at something that challenges their world-view.

Some concepts are so ingrained in left wing thinking, some going back to the 60's, that they are difficult to break.  Believe me, you don't want to argue what ethical eating really is with a liberal vegan anymore than you want to argue against the concept of  race with a white supremacist.  For me, as someone who's been spending so much time in conservation education, I find there are people who are conservation activists who don't go to the peer reviewed research on a topic any more than an Alex Jones conservative. Instead, they trot out the same barely scratching the surface arguments against plastic bottles and plastic bags, blissfully unaware (and unwilling to listen) to the research showing that there are other items which cause much MUCH dangers to our environment, but rather than addressing those as well, they just want to ban bottles and bags, because that's the way it's done.

It's very strange that I am now "too conservative" or "a downer" because I don't follow some of the more dogmatic liberal ideology, but instead think that there is a huge shift in thinking that needs to happen in order for liberals to realize their goals, whether they be social, political, environmental, or other.   I also have come to realize that a major part in that shift of thinking has to come in with the ability to be open-minded, and being open-hearted is simply not enough.

It's taken hundreds of years for the Roman Catholic Church to change to the point where, if written today, In Praise of Folly would not be seen as satire, because women are recognized as intellectual equals, and the cleric may well likely also be recognized as the real fool.  That took a tremendous amount of change within and outside the church, and the willingness of society to be accepting of the kind of criticism that spurs growth.

I sincerely believe we as a species are capable of making the kind of positive choices that would lead to real change... that could mitigate the effects of global warming, that could feed a stable, sustainable population, that could preserve wildlife while allowing for a certain level of comfort and convenience for human beings.  But "capable" and "willing" are two different things, and sometimes it takes a long, long time to change a mind.


-----------------------------------------------
btw, I will be blogging on some of the research into plastic pollution at a later date, when I'm done reading some of the peer reviewed papers on the topic, and compiling data. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Walk Downtown.

This morning I got off to a rough start, but after taking my morning medications, I felt well enough to go out for a walk, so I leashed up Cinnamon, jumped in the car (the Lynch Creek Trail is another day!) and headed downtown, where I'd be around people, food, and rest rooms in case I wasn't as well as I thought I was.

As it turned out, we ended up walking for a couple hours. Not that Petaluma is THAT big, but that we ended up stopping and talking to a few people, including Krista (from Edward Jones investing, who I met on the walkway along the river behind the Great Petaluma Mill) and Lauren (at Petaluma Pet Co., which I HIGHLY recommend for some of the neatest pet stuff I've seen in a long time!)  Cinnamon met a lot of friendly dogs on the walk as well as getting lots of attention from people who stopped to pet her and to chat.

I've decided that Petaluma is one part San Francisco, one part Santa Fe, and one part Mayberry... all of those parts being the BEST parts.

This afternoon I'm sitting here with the windows open, looking out over Lynch Creek, and trying to figure out which off all the photos to include in this blog (some 59 of them) and so far I've narrowed it down to 57, so this calls for a slideshow/movie.



I ended up with photos of the businesses, art painted in alleyways, some of the beautiful old homes (which seem to have been divided into 4plexes) and some of the fun things I could see in the shop windows.  Many of the places, are places I'd like to go back to, especially the China Town restaurant, the Wild Goat Bistro, and the year 'round Christmas shop. 

The two iconic buildings which you'll see on Petaluma postcards and online images are the two major banks of the early days, both of which are closed. One is now the seed bank, the other an antique shop.  Both are once again iconic of Petaluma.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Courtyard

a day of promise...

Down the street...

Today I drove to church.  It's not much of a drive. It's exactly 3 miles from my home.  This is the second time I've driven it, and I'm trying different routes.

Today I drove past a Pacific Gas and Electric facility and took this blurry picture through my windshield.

This is the kind of thing that makes Petaluma, Petaluma. 

And why I need to take my camera and go walk-about in town.

As I drive, I see about a dozen things I want to photograph.  I wish I could stop and photograph everything as I see it for the first time, but that would hold up traffic (of which there really isn't a heck of a lot, until you get to the corner of McDowell and Washington.  For some reason, that's always congested)

I look forward to a better photo of the building,and more photos from downtown Petaluma.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Settling In

Today I started feeling at home.

There's still a little work to do in the apartment: I need a table to work on, a dresser for my clothing, and I'd like some sort of console to store items in my living room.

But it's starting to feel good.

I've talked in the past about having these moments where I feel "closer to god".  Moments of awe, a sense of oneness.  I get that a lot here, looking out at the rolling hills.  It's a good feeling. 

Today I walked to the grocery store, and it struck me exactly how easy it would be to use the car only once a week.  Most everywhere is in walking distance, which is one reason why I chose this.  I also found that the credit union across the street offers decent checking and savings accounts, and I'm planning on moving my money there. That does two things: 1st, keeps my money local and allows me more ethical banking, and 2nd, if I ever do have to go into a branch for something, it's right across the street.

I'm starting to meet people here as well, and I can already see some individuals I'd like to have as friends, both at my church and at my apartment complex.  I've also found out that we have $5 bingo at the apartments on Wednesday, which is something I can afford, rather than crossing the street and playing for $42.  Of course, the jackpots aren't huge in the complex ($5 or $10) but that's OK, because I have horrible bingo luck.

Of course this month is a bit of a struggle, since everything went into the move, but next month looks more comfortable, even splitting my money between the two banks while I transition.  I do have a few other expenses I didn't count (licensing the dog, paying for my new driver's license) but that all seems very doable next month, and I'm even thinking of taking a trip up to Bodega Head to see if I can see any whales.

At this point I'm through most of the red tape of moving, and just starting to get cozy. I should have everything finished in the apartment and the last of the red tape unraveled by Butter and Egg Days, which corresponds to the twin's birthday this year!  I think I'll pass on the cow chip throwing contest, however.

My one sadness is that the studio that teaches belly dance here in town is closing April 12th. I hope they offer the classes somewhere else. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Nest


In the apartment courtyard, above the artificial grass which is the doggie potty station, in a miniature citrus tree, nests a hummingbird.   One of the residents alerted me to the nest this morning when I took Cinnamon out for her morning constitutional.  Apparently there is a nest here, in this tree, every year at this time.  She keeps coming back.  She must like it here.

I try to constantly paint a rosy picture of Petaluma.  I know my relatives want me to be happy here, and I am, but I'm not yet overjoyed.  I rather expected to be.  Many things are not as I expected.

Oh, the apartment is very much as I expected, as is the community.  There are those residents who are happy and feel blessed to be here, and who love everything.  There are those residents who say everyone is mean and hateful here. And I expect that the the truth is somewhere in between, and it depends a lot on your personal experiences (and how you react to them) on whether it's rosy or black.

As for me, I'm choosing to stay out of the local gossip mill, and to look for friends among the rosies.

Petaluma itself is not what I expected.  After driving around a bit to go here and there, I still haven't seen that picturesque town from the postcards.  In fact, it seems that downtown is so tiny, I'll have to drive there with the purpose of just seeing downtown.  The rest of the area is goats and sheep and cows, rather like the small upstate NY town I spent my high school years at, only more so.

It's hard to see where the art culture comes in just yet, or where all the people are who are commuting in to San Francisco, Oakland, and Silicon Valley.  It's hard to see where the money comes in, because it all just seems to be a lot of small farms and the new outlet mall.  I suppose that's all tightly packed in the downtown area, and perhaps out farther where I am, in wine country.

One of the reason I chose Petaluma over some of the other small towns scattered about is that there is a large number of annual events, festivals, and so on that look like they'd keep me busy.  I'm waiting for some of that excitement to kick in. 

Right now, it's  been raining since I got here, with only a few minutes break now and then.  It's hard to stay excited, but maybe I don't have to be. Maybe I can just sit in my very comfortable apartment with my dog curled up at my feet and watch the fog and the rain.  I do know, however, that shopping is in the forecast.  My Los Angeles wardrobe, even with my collection of light cardigans, is no match for the cold, damp mornings (it's currently 34°F) is unsuited to this weather. 

I also have other adjustments to make.  My budget will have to be reworked.  My rent is lower, but my internet higher, and I have no idea about utilities yet. Some things seem much more expensive, but perhaps a lot of that is not having the same stores for some of my basics (like toilet paper) and not yet finding the best bargains.  It's a work in progress.

But anything good is worth working for. 

The fact that the little hummingbird feels safe enough to nest here, in the courtyard just outside my apartment, and that she knows she will be undisturbed year after year gives me a lot of hope that I will feel the same as I settle in.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Crossing the Street

It's been raining here in Petaluma.  Generally it POURS, then we get small breaks of 15 minutes or so, then it starts coming down again.  This morning I went out to the Department of Social Services (in the pouring rain).  I figured I could pretty much write the entire day off, but when I got there, there were no cars parked in front of the office, and I figured they were closed... but then the postman came out, and yeah, they were open.  NO WAITING.  I was pretty stunned.  They told me they were a new office, and probably word just hasn't gotten out yet that they existed (they've been open for 11  months!) and once, a while back, there were so many people there they gave out numbers.

I'm going to like it here.

After I got things done, I headed up to Rohnert Park to the Walmart to take my curtain rods back and pick up some garbage bags and a new broom (exiting, eh?). I also couldn't resist a white turtleneck (I've been looking for one for months) on the clearance rack for $1. (YES, ONE DOLLAR!)

So, the afternoon to myself and a clearing overhead, I decided to get adventurous with my few minutes of dry and take the dog for a walk across the street. Just to be clear, I didn't want to get drenched, so I only strayed a couple minutes from the complex, but just to show you how close things are...
my very short walk

Now the original intent was to walk around the little lake in the park, but there were certain barriers to doing that: namely a large number of geese and ducks who had nested near the walkways and hissed menacingly when I got close.

this mamma was particularly aggressive



The walkways were also well covered with goose poop, so it wasn't a terribly appealing prospect. Instead, I walked along the front of the community center and took this photo of the side of the center:


The building is really large, and there's a lot of events that take place there, as well as the field I took this from, which is the location of the Tuesday Farmer's Market.

Off to my left I could see a gateway: the opening to the Lynch Creek Trail:


The trail is paved in both directions, and while I knew the other side of the trail went down to the river and Downtown Petaluma, I never looked at the map to see this end of things.  That's an exploration for another day.

I was somewhat amused to see that Lynch Creek was much MUCH larger than the Santa Fe River (in the City of Santa Fe at least)

Lynch Creek from the McDowell St Bridge
at the end of the bridge, a few steps away was the intersection to Lynch Creek Way, a small road (almost a driveway) to the hospital on one side of McDowell, and the medical offices on the other.

Crossing the road there, between the medical offices and the apartment complex on the opposite side of the creek from the other section of trail, the trail continued toward downtown. One block further down McDowell is a shopping plaza, behind which is the dog park.



One of the things I missed living in Los Angeles is the feeling of green spaces.  Parks were small, and I had to drive to get places like the nature center and dog park, where Cinnamon could run.  And while it's a 37 minute drive to the ocean now, it's not much farther than the drive I had from my Long Beach apartment to Cabrillo Beach, where I spent most of my coastal time.

Not too long ago I posted about missing those times where I felt "close to God"... times of awe and oneness with the land (or water) around me, and how I only had that now on the ocean.  Well, I've had it again here.  Just driving and seeing the rolling green hills rising up in front of me, or looking across the street and seeing the green patchwork hills wreathed in morning fog... It's really quite beautiful here.

So I think I'll end this post with some of the spring flowers growing near the parking lot of the community center.  Then I'll get ready to go to bingo tonight...










Thursday, March 15, 2018

It pours, man it pours.

the view from my living room window today

It's been raining for two days.  Luckily, we had a break yesterday around mid-afternoon when we unpacked the trailer (members of the church out here helped) and today I got a couple quick breaks that allowed me to get from store to car to apartment without too much of a soaking. It got me humming this song:



Of course it's not so bad as this, but the constant wet is a bit depressing.  I'm exhausted, but the apartment is nice, and the unpacking and arranging is coming along. 

Cinnamon isn't feeling too well.  She cried in her sleep last night, and I came out to the living room to get her and when I picked her up either she was way too warm or I was way too cold (hard to tell sometimes).  In the morning, she was sick to her stomach, and had no interested in the dog biscuits I left hidden in plain sight around the apartment to keep her busy while I ran out for groceries and a shelving unit.

But as dismal as the weather is, life here feels full of potential.  I was a little shocked because the "city" is a lot more rural than I'd imagined.  When I went to return the UHaul, I had to drive a mile down the street past the plaza, turn left, go past the stockyard and auction house, wind my way through the little hilly streets past homes with sheep and horses and an occasional llama, down to a small congested spot at an intersection where the automotive repair shop is... the one with all the UHauls parked out back.

I've noticed all the local goods in the grocery stores: cheeses, wines, and meats from local farms.  Everything seems fresh, and you know it hasn't been on a questionable refrigerator truck for 1500 miles.

There is a lot here to get used to.  The people are a curious mix, everyone from plain spoken conservative farmers to painfully politically correct liberals, but somehow it all works. I can't wait to get out and about (when the rain finally does stop). 

For now, perhaps the rain is a good thing.  Last night I was up until 4 am updating various accounts (loyalty cards, credit cards, that sort of thing) with my new address and trying to make sure everything moves over smoothly.  The rain is slowing down my ability to run around (I actually thought about driving the hour out to Savers today!).  While it's frustrating, I know I need the rest.

I did have a little excitement over the move:  the UHaul I rented had a chunk missing out of one of the back corners, and my stuff got "rained on".  Nothing was damaged, but apparently UHaul has to investigate.  I SHOULD have followed my own very good advice on this one, and inspected everything BEFORE leaving and taking a lot of photos.  The guy who did the hookup was a bit off, and when I'd asked him if theft were a problem with the trailers, he told me the story of the people who ask too many questions always being the ones who file reports, and he figures they steal the stuff themselves.  So I'm not sure if he was telling a story, telling me to shut up, or just diverting my attention from the fact that things weren't right with the trailer... but I put a lock on the chains the way I'd seen in a YouTube video just in case.

Right now I'm glad I got my futon in that trailer, because I'm stretched out with my big fluffy throw, my dog at my feet, and a hot cup of tea in my hand, just looking out the window at the rain dripping from the trees.

and that's just fine for now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Petaluma bound

I'm back from my latest northern trip. I took no time at all to stop and look around, it was more important to get back here, to do some last minute soul-refreshing, and prepare for the week ahead. 

I have two more tour days at the aquarium.  I'm looking forward to going, not looking forward to saying goodbye.  I have one more day at my church.  It happens to be the day of our big Saint Patrick's Day party, and there will be food and music and fun, so for me it's the perfect send off.  I'm also looking forward to the party, not looking forward to saying goodbye.

Apparently the complex I'm moving to is the center of all drama in Petaluma... but I suspect a lot of what goes on there is the clickishness and boredom of senior life, and is just bigger and louder in certain circles because the complex is much larger than other senior complexes I've seen.  And I'm OK with all that, because I don't need to involve myself in the drama, and my apartment is pretty isolated relative other units (I have no neighbors to either side, I'm flanked by the office and the emergency equipment room)  I figure I can be involved without being entangled, and since a lot of what I do is off grounds anyway (my volunteer work) I'll have a nice, quiet apartment to come home to, and some light socialization at home if I crave it.

Right now I'm feeling that last minute resistance.  I don't know if I've mentioned it, but I've been thinking about doing a painting based on one of the buildings at El Rancho de las Golondrinas.  I can see the painting in my mind, although not fully formed, and it already has a name: "home".  I've been talking about Petaluma so long now, it never occurred to me that I may feel any sort of reluctance to go there.  Mostly it's the fear of the unknown, because as much as I DO know about the city, as many connections I've made there (at least in my mind) I'm finding the reality a bit challenging to my preconceived notions of the place. I know that to be happy, I need to let go of what I think I know about Petaluma, and just explore and accept it for what it is.  Not that it isn't fabulous, but that I know every detail isn't going to align perfectly with my fantasy built of Facebook posts and chamber of commerce advertisements.

One thing that really throws me off after the dust and grey-brown of Santa Fe, and the dirty concrete and steel of Long Beach is how green and fecund Petaluma feels. I know it sounds strange, but it feels almost heavy with fertility, and while I said I wanted green space, I now realize I was talking about OPEN space, not space so green you can almost feel the weight of the moist greenness.  There is a reason Petaluma celebrates Butter and Egg Days as it's major holiday, it's an overwhelmingly "farmish" community in some ways... which seems at odds with it's renown for art and antiques, as well as being a bedroom community for San Francisco and Oakland. 

Some of the people there remind me of caricatures of people of the deep south.  They are unfailingly polite, although there are at times you're not quite sure if that politeness holds a kind of contempt.  Others are open in ways I seldom see outside of farming communities, especially strong women who have no problems being who they are.  I haven't met anyone inside the art community yet, but I get the impression that Petaluma is a place of vast contradictions in personality, both of the city and the people.  And that while I looked into several cultural aspects in the city, I totally failed to look into the culture of the city itself.

None of this is terribly bad.  I'm just having a slow awakening into where I'm going.  Like any city, it's a lot different depending on whether you're viewing it as a tourist or a resident.  Perhaps that's why I've always loved living in cities where other people vacation:  I can have a little of both, and can always escape for a short time into a tourist fantasy of my home town.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Move Update

Well, things have turned around in the last couple days, and I'm on my way and back on schedule.  It hasn't been easy, and it's involved a whole lot of headache and tears... not to mention lost sleep.

It's going to be very difficult for me, but I'll be driving up to Santa Rosa at the beginning of the week for an appointment there (about a 10 hour drive with stops, 8 if it were possible to drive straight through)  Then the following week, it's move day.  I can't believe it's only 10 days away!

Moving is getting more and more difficult for me.

This is the LAST TIME. 

I don't think I could possibly go through it all again.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Move Update

I found on the internet a few years back, source unknown. 
This may come in handy in the near future. 
Things are kinda crazy right now.  Even though all my paperwork (from my side) is finished, Long Beach Housing "process" is going to have me wait at least another week, maybe three, before they send the paperwork on to Sonoma County Housing.  The big issue with that, of course, is that I need to move out of this place in 13 days (no choice at this point), and move into the new apartment in 14, or risk losing the apartment and my holding fee and facing long term homelessness.

Trying to get through to people in the Housing Office has been a nightmare, because they are so rigid in their process, that I apparently MUST go to a meeting to sign a form which I already signed and submitted a week ago because that's just the way it's done, and they won't move forward until it's done that way (since I already signed the paperwork acknowledging the instructions and risks which they are going to discuss at this meeting, WHY am I going?)  I had requested an earlier meeting instead of the group meeting (next week) but apparently there is no one to do the meetings, because the individual is on vacation, and they don't cover that position when she's gone.

So, while everything was ready to send to Sonoma a week ago (all they have to do in LB is issue my voucher, something they have to wait to get the form I submitted last week to do) I have to wait ANOTHER week before they even look at the paperwork.

I think I've found a HUGE contributing factor to homelessness in Long Beach.  This is the SAME kind of delay I was up against when I came here (with all my paperwork in order and my apartment set up) that lead to my being homeless:  they sat on the paperwork until I lost the apartment.  I sure hope they don't do that again, and that my new complex will be understanding of the delay, which will minimize the amount of time I end up sleeping in my car after I have to move out in 13 days.

IF Long Beach doesn't get their act together, I WON'T be able to move in on my move date in 14 days (it takes a day to drive up there).

What I really don't understand is that the people I talk to at Long Beach Housing say the reason it takes so long is that they're so overworked.  Well, if they just issued the voucher now that the paperwork on my end is complete and sent it on to Sonoma, that would be a lot less work than making me jump through hoops and sending my paperwork through three more hands at the office.

I suppose I should stop expecting things to be rational. And I guess I should start looking into shelters in Sonoma County, because I'm not sure I can get my voucher and my inspection done in time for a March 14 move in at this point.  Public Storage has a half off first month rent, so my move in to the storage facility would be $65.50.  I would be able to move stuff out piecemeal in the car, so I wouldn't need to rent a trailer again (that'll be one good thing!) I think that I'll probably have to go to Catholic Charities in Santa Rosa to get some stop-gap shelter until all the paperwork is done, IF there are beds available somewhere in the county, and of course there is the issue with my dog and sheltering.  In all this, I can't spend money that I need for the balance of my security deposit and rent in the new apartment, so this month could become a real challenge for me.

Now I've dealt with some serious craziness with Section 8 before, but NOTHING like Long Beach. The Santa Fe move was mostly a situation of paperwork that one office said was sent, and the other said they never received and it only lasted a few days. THIS has been a week, will likely be another week, and could drag on beyond that.  The chance that this move will go on schedule gets slimmer every day.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A light comes on over my head (in the closet?)

For a long time, I've talked about treating myself  better... about being my "own fairy god-mother".  The original incident which set me off happened about 6-7 years ago, when my daughter invited me to (literally two hours before the beginning of) a red carpet event at her film school.  I literally had nothing I could wear to such an event.  I had no formal, no semi-formal. The best I could pull off was my ONLY business outfit: a black cardigan with a plaid skirt.  I vowed never again.

There have been times when I've had a fairly diverse closet. The problem is the fluctuation of weight I get trying to balance my issues with hypoglycemia with keeping my weight down. (A rep from my old insurance company once told me I didn't need treatment for hypoglycemia, I just needed to eat more. I weighed a little over 200 lbs.)

One problem is that, despite all my "be my own fairy god-mother" posts, my closet has become a haven for cardigans and stretch pants, but even more disturbing is that it's mostly in what I call "camouflage black".  That's the plain black outfits we fat people wear because we're told "black is slimming".  It also helps us blend in a room, and doesn't call attention to our bodies with bright colors.

The irony in all this is that I frequently claim I feel invisible.

And of course, the fat chick all in black cowering in the back of the room IS invisible, and I've always marveled at women much heavier than I who are beautiful and outgoing and very VERY visible in the best of all possible ways, simply because they are comfortable enough with who they are to by clothes that fit, are modern, and in bright colors.  They also have no fear of makeup, hair color, and flamboyant style.

So yesterday I went out and got a few things for myself: some t-shirts in colors ...which will likely end up under my dark neutral cardigans.

I also washed EVERY SINGLE ITEM OF CLOTHING I OWN, since recently I've begun to suspect I'm allergic to that last laundry detergent I bought.  Having to put EVERYTHING back in the closet the same time was an eye opener, because literally the entire left side of my closet was black or near black.

and this is DEFINITELY not the look I want going forward...

but...

I also am no longer sure how to dress myself, what things say "this is who Kate is" and I end up falling back on t-shirts, cardigans and dark neutral slacks.

Good things happen with inclusivity

There has been a recent event in social media that has had me upset this weekend, and it has me thinking back on how important inclusion is in the lives of our "special needs" children.  If you've been following me for the last decade and a half, you already know my youngest, Tay. If you don't, you may want to take a look at some of the posts about her on my archives site (link in right sidebar).

Tay is on the autism spectrum, and is what some people might call an "autism success story".  She is NOT "cured" of autism, she has, however, adapted well, and is now verbal and mobile, after two decades of hard work.  I did notice that, like many other young people who've had some relief from some of the outward affects of autism, that she has had some increasing difficulties as she has become an adult.

But right now, this post is about the videos I found while searching for one in particular, and it shows a number of museums, zoos and aquariums which we frequented as a family, and how much pleasure Tay has had in interacting in all of them. In most of these videos, she is verbal, in some, not and in others, partially so.

at a taiko event at the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles:



at Explora! in Albuquerque:



with her twin at an event at the Mission of Capistrano:



Special kudos to this Walnut Canyon Ranger who helped Tay (and her new friend the owl puppet) recite the junion ranger oath:



At the red lantern event in Los Angeles (note, my son, who is dual diagnosed, is also on the autism spectrum, and while this is as far as they got in the song, it became something we talked about, and built family events around, for a few years ... see our "scary-oke" contest videos)



This, next video is my favorite, and one of the reasons I love being a docent. I wish EVERY child could have a heartfelt reaction like this. This video is from Monterey Aquarium, and you can hear Tay's response to seeing the Mola Mola:



Now I won't say that EVERY interaction we had was like these. I've had people become quite irate (and been asked to leave) zoo events back in Albuquerque when Tay has become non-verbal or windmilling. I remember a particular conversation with our clerk during a recognition event (yes, I was a docent THERE back in the day) where she thought that Tay should leave, and that her behavior wasn't acceptable, and that she was "spoiled" and I should stop "coddling" her. I had her twin stay with her while I pulled the clerk aside and educated her. She was, to her credit, apologetic, and willing to learn.

I wish we had even that in grocery stores and shopping malls.

Children with disabilities deserve to have the same opportunities and experiences as their mainstreamed peers. There have been many times I've taken Tay into a museum, aquarium and zoo while she has been non-verbal and she has left speaking (sometimes non-stop!) because the directed stimulation was something she could focus on.

For anyone reading who might be involved in a zoo, aquarium or museum, here are some simple things to consider:

  1. Just because a child is silent, isn't making eye contact, is fidgeting, or is making noises you are unfamiliar with doesn't mean that child isn't learning, enjoying, or having a positive experience or interaction.  Not every individual is going to react the same way, whether they are developmentally disabled, psychiatrically disabled, or what you might call "normal"
  2. It's even more important to have a variety of learning experiences, including kinesthetic, tactile, and yes, even musical, rhythmic, or anything that engages other senses when possible.
  3. Sometimes it's a good idea to allow groups who have members who may be overwhelmed by large crowds or noise to have a special tour with no background music, and less people in the facility.
  4. EVERYONE who walks through your door deserves the same respect, the same compassion, and the same joyful, relaxing, educational, inspirational and memory-making experience, regardless of ability.
     

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Side-gill

I was delighted today to see some side gill sea slugs in a classroom tank at the aquarium today.  I'd seen a single side-gill at the aquarium (a different species) previously, and had recently asked about them. Pleurobranchaea californica is the species associated with the sandy/ muddy deep water areas off the coast.

one of several side-gills in the tank. 


There doesn't seem to be a lot written on these animals, and I wonder just how much research has been done. I do know that in New Zealand, they have had trouble with their local side-gills, Pleurobranchaea maculata, causing the deaths of several dogs(due to ingestion of the toxic animals) This problem seems to have been first reported in 2009, and was thought to be isolated to parts of New Zealand,  however, in 2015 there is a BBC report of toxic side-gills off Argentina. After reading a number of research papers, I found a recent study that confirmed that these are also Pleurobrachaea maculata, which makes me wonder how widespread the species is, and whether or not we will find a number of separately named species will turn out to be the same species after genetic testing, since these animals are so toxic each one contains enough toxin to kill 4 humans.

Pleurobrachaea maculata look a heck of a lot like Pleurobrachaea californica, and while not all animals that look alike are actually members of the same species, I think I'd want to do some genetic testing and testing for the presence of TTX (tetrodotoxin, the neurotoxin that killed the dogs who ingested the slugs)

It is not known if all Pleurobranchaea contain the potent neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin.

It's interesting to note that unlike other sea slugs who eat toxic creatures and incorporate the toxin or toxic cells into their own bodies, Pleurobrachaea maculata apparently produces the toxin within it's own body.  This hypothesis by scientists in New Zealand was developed during studies of the animals, where they could find no TTX in animals the slug may have eaten.

Q&A at CMA

During mornings I'm at CMA, before the tours, we have docent enrichment activities.  Yesterday we were discussing "Sand Crabs" (Emerita analoga).  There was a discussion about how the female carries her eggs (under the tail) at which point I asked, "So Sand Crabs aren't True Crabs?"

 No one was sure, so I did some reading.

As it turns out, sand crabs are NOT true crabs.  True Crabs make up the Infraorder Brachyura. Mole crabs (Sand crabs) belong to the Infraorder Anomura, and are more closely related to hermit crabs. Porcelain crabs are also in this class of animals.

These animals are also commonly known as Sand Fleas.  They aren't fleas, either.





Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Oh, Petaluma!

Well, I'm back from my first of two pre-move trips I have to make to Petaluma.  The apartment is secured, I've put a holding deposit on it, and now it's up to housing.  I hope they can move quickly, because I have a move out date here of less than three weeks away, and a move in the next day.  I've got my trailer reserved, my hitch ball ordered and paid for, and my daughter and her SigOther are coming out to Long Beach to help.  Things are moving pretty quick.

One thing that really surprised me is how close everything is.  I'd driven it on Google Earth, but never in RL, and it's really all walkable, from the dog park to shopping... it's all right there.  Cinnamon, BTW, made some new doggie friends, and I met some women there who are regulars.

I didn't get a lot of photos, the trip was pretty much a hit and run, with me going up, getting and filling out paperwork (I filled out the application at the dog park, then went to the bank to get the money orders) but I did have a few minutes to stop off at the visitor's center, which is at the train station, which is also where the Petaluma Art Center is located.  Parking was a nightmare.




But I'm really telling the story from the middle out, and I suppose I should start with the trip there, which was an adventure in itself.

I started the trip late Monday morning, knowing I could, should I wish to, make it all the way into Petaluma before my normal bedtime, and wake up with plenty of time to spare before my appointment.  But hotels are expensive in Petaluma, relative to other areas, and I figured I could save about $60 by spending the night in Stockton.

Now pulling in to the Howard Johnsons on Center Street, I was pretty encouraged.  It's across from the park and the river, which had some pretty views:



Well, on closer inspection, not as pretty...


Well, on to finish my riverside walk with the dog, and I was stopped by a woman who was the very stereotype of a meth addict.  I told her I didn't carry cash, and moved on quickly back to the apartment.  At that point, I could see the homeless starting to gather.

Back in the hotel, I discovered two things:  First, my deadbolt didn't work, and second, that someone had used the "clean" towel in my room at some point as toilet paper.  I changed rooms.  My next room had a lock that worked, but the linens were pretty crusty, there was water damage on the bathroom walls, the toilet backed up (but didn't flood) when the next unit flushed, and there was no microwave or coffee maker.  At least I had internet.  And my own soap, because I scrubbed myself A LOT before leaving.  Stockton Howard Johnsons gets a zillion thumbs down from this reviewer.

So on to Petaluma, where I did my apartment stuff, and had a lovely time talking to women at the dog park, and went to the visitor's center, where I mentioned I was in the process of moving and wanted a hard copy of the seasonal event calendar (visitor's guide) and where I got to talk to two lovely ladies who were recruiting me HARD to volunteer for Butter and Egg Days Parade.  I left uncommitted, and pointed out that I'd like to see it one year just as an observer, and that I'm sure they'd still need extra hands next year, when I'd be more inclined to be involved.    I left with a ton of literature, and I can't help but notice that they snuck in a form for Butter and Egg Day volunteers.

As soon as all the apartment stuff was done and I had a move date (EEEK!) I hightailed it home, the intent being to drive straight through and be home between 9 and 10:00 pm.  Considering I'd gotten up at 4 am on Tuesday, I knew that wouldn't likely come to pass, and I really hate driving at night.  My "quick drive" plan was quashed as I approached San Francisco, that had suffered some sort of massive failure in the transit computers earlier in the day, resulting in all the city traffic lights being out.  I assume that may have contributed to the MASSIVE traffic jams my GPS was trying to route me around, some areas had delays of an hour and a half.  At one point my Google Maps lost the signal as I was on a ramp that branched off into three other ramps, and I took the wrong one, and was dumped under a bridge at a place that must have been Oakland's Skid Row:  Block after block of shanties and tents, with one regal red pit bull chained outside one clean tent under a bridge, sitting motionless and staring straight ahead, looking for all the world like Anubis guarding the halls of the Pharaoh.

As whimsical as that impression was, I wanted nothing more than to get out of that neighborhood, and was relieved when my GPS got me back online.

After one diversion, I stopped at a 7-11 and gassed up, and looked at the routes Google was taking me, all the little winding side streets running parallel to the highway, then joining up to the 580 again before taking another exit and another side street.  While it seemed to take forever to zig zag through all that and across the highway, I apparently saved close to 4 hours on the trip doing it that way.  Yes, the traffic was THAT BAD.

I started wondering how far to drive, and tried to calculate how close to LA I'd have to get and still make it to my job at noon.  Then I called and quit, explaining about the move and how far away I was. 

There were no photos on the way home, I just wanted to get back as quickly as possible.

But I was tired.

And I started saying "just one more exit"

and then I stopped saying "one more exit" and got off at the exit just east of Coalinga, and to the Motel 6.  I figured, at that point, what was one more night in a crusty hotel?   But Motel 6 surprised me.  It was clean, and it was comfortable, despite there being no microwave and no coffee maker.  I had to pay for internet (paid for high speed, which, as it turned out, wasn't even high enough for me to play a game on FB) but that didn't bother me, and the price was right ($54 and change) So three and a half thumbs up (out of five) for Motel 6 Coalinga East.

When I went to bed, my GPS assured me I had less than a three and a half hour drive.  When I woke up, it assured me my drive was nearly 5 hours, thanks to LA traffic.

All in all, a heck of an adventure.  I got horrifically sick of eating nut and seed bars. I did grab a couple hot sandwiches, had a cold one I'd packed on Days 1 and 2, but the cooler didn't keep things as cold as I'd like, and by day 3 the meat was looking pretty sketchy, so I didn't chance it.  I'm going to have to pack differently for the next trip. And I'll pony up for the room in Petaluma.