Saturday, August 11, 2018

St. George's Greek & Middle Eastern Festival

In all fairness, it wasn't the best of days to begin with.  Google led me astray with the bus schedule, and I ended up walking the mile and a half to the transit mall, after doing about an hour and a half walking to the plaza to get Cay some dress slacks, in the heat, only to find that the schedule I had was wrong, and the fare I'd expected was wrong. 

I was pretty beat by the time I got to Rohnert Park on the bus, stood out in the blistering sun waiting for Cay to get there from work (the only shade at the bus stop was being used by a napping homeless person) and we got to this little tiny church with a few vendors, some tables of groceries, then a long tent with prepared food.

Now I've been to other Greek Festivals (ironically, in most of the cities I've been to, Long Beach, Albuquerque, and now here, they've all been at churches named for St George) and they've been pretty huge, with loads of dancing, vendors, singing, and traditional garb.  This was a lot of food.

Now, don't get me wrong.  The food was fabulous, quite possibly the best I've had at any Greek festival, but I wanted a little more festival with my food.

Cay got some henna done, we had lunch, and headed home.

Since we got there in the early afternoon, none of the dancing had started.  The food line was still long, and a lot of people were simply picking up food and bringing it home.  I've checked the Facebook Page since then, and it seems that some of the attendees had been doing some dancing on the small dance floor between the dining tents, but I didn't see any choreographed dancing.

In two weeks Rohnert Park will host the Pacific Island Festival.  After seeing the crowds at Rivertown Revival and Butter and Eggs Day in Petaluma, I expected larger events.  I suspect that for the most part, events and festivals will be much smaller than those I've come to expect, having been in much larger cities for the past several years.

Although I talked to some of the organizers who admitted the festival was mostly about the food, I have a feeling that the festival would have felt more like a festival (or at least a party) if I'd arrived around dinner time instead of so early in the day.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

No-Cal coastal beauty

... a sampling of photos I took during the trip to Fort Ross and back.

along the coast just south of Fort Ross

harbor seals hauled out on the rocks below Fort Ross

just a pretty scene off the coast with the rocks jutting out of the ocean

one view of the ocean from Fort Ross (looking south)
looking north along the coast at Fort Ross. 

Abalone Die-Off on the Sonoma Coast

While at Fort Ross, I considered taking the path from the parking lot down to the sea. The coast is beautiful and rocky, and I thought I'd see a lot of wonderful stuff at the bottom of the cliff.  However, as soon as I got on the path, I saw abalone which had been brought up by visitors.  This is illegal, whether the animals are alive or not, since the coast here is a marine protected area.

I talked to one of the rangers about the abalone on the trail, so they could be picked up.  That's when I heard about the abalone die-off along the coast.

I'd known that the abalone had been having a rough time, and that there was competition with purple urchin, but I didn't fully appreciate the scope of the problem until learning about this.  The North Coast Journal refers to a "perfect storm" of environmental problems which threaten the abalone: the El Nino event, sea star wasting disease,  the purple urchin population boom, the harmful algae bloom... it all has resulted in the loss of the kelp which the abalone feed on, leaving them to die of starvation.  These are red abalone, and are thus far not endangered, as are other species of abalone. 

White abalone is highly endangered, and spawning and raising white abalone in the hopes of repopulating has been the mission of some of the marine facilities along the coast.  If the problems (which are triggered by climate change) continue, then it's doubtful that the animals will be able to survive in the changing environment.  It may well be that we're looking at a time in the near future when these animals only survive in aquariums and other conservation facilities.

Fort Ross Festival

Yesterday was the annual Fort Ross Festival.   Fort Ross the southernmost Russian fort in California. The area around it still has many Russian settlers and immigrants, and celebrates Russian culture and history.

The event features music, dancing, a borscht contest, vendors, arts and crafts, and a beer garden and multicultural food area.  There were also a few conservation groups on hand, and since it was low tide in the morning when the festival started, there was a group with a telescope so visitors could view the harbor seals hauled out on the rocks below the cliff the fort was situated on.

The fort is in a beautiful location.   Just north of where the Russian River meets the sea, along a rocky coast line fringed with redwoods, I can see the appeal of settling here. 

The fort features several buildings, a chapel, and a windmill (for flour).  A second windmill was on the location at one time, and used to pulverize oak bark for tannin to process otter furs.

the sea-side wall and tower

view of the fort (and chapel back right) from the location of the village

The windmill (one set of blades missing: out for repair)

For the sake of brevity, I'm going to do a second post for the scenic coastal views, and keep this one confined more to the fort portion of the event and park itself.

Of course a lot of the fun at these events for me are the hands on activities.  There were activities for rope making, needle felting, and the two I did, basket weaving and candle-making.  I also enjoyed the borscht contest, because guests got to taste each borscht and vote for their favorite.  I had for a long time avoided borscht, figuring I wouldn't like it, but have also been curious, so this was a wonderful chance for me to explore.  The best part was that I learned I enjoyed borscht, as did Cay, and we've decided to make some at home.

There were a few demonstrations of skills and crafts, and a couple vendors, including these wonderful felted hats:

When speaking to the woman who made these lovely hats, I found out she lives in Petaluma, not to far from me!
Cay was taken by the black powder demonstrations, and has quite a bit of video footage of canon fire and the guns used during the early 1800s.  I went back for more borscht.

The park has a really nice little museum and gift shop near the entrance.  Out the back of the gift shop is a walkway that goes through the redwoods past the village location and to the fort.

looking into the museum from the gift shop

looking through the trees from the walkway to the back of the Visitor's Center

One of the coolest things for me at the fort itself was the windmill.  It's a pretty ingenious piece of work.  The mill is mounted on a huge pole which is dug 10 to 12 feet deep. The end of the pole is charred to prevent rotting in the soil, then a structure is built around it to take the weight of the mill itself, which is far up to accommodate the large blades.  The actual mill portion rests on a small base and a metal bearing, on the main pole, which allows the top portion of the mill to rotate, to face into the wind.

There were a lot of events I missed: some of the games and the dancing, and I only heard the bell ringing at the chapel from a distance.  I admit, a lot of the time I was distracted by the coastal beauty, the harbor seals, and the conservation groups at the event, which always catch my attention.  I'm looking forward to going back next year!

Saturday, July 21, 2018


Back in 2014, Pew Research did a study on what they called "the spiral of silence" in Social Media.  While the study was triggered and dealt a lot with the specific hot button issue of the time (Snowden/ NSA), it was an indicator of what was a rapidly increasing occurrence on social media platforms.  What the study shows is that people are increasingly silent about things they disagree with, and that this is spilling over from social media into face to face discussions.

Now obviously there are a lot of things that need to be shut down:  hate speech, revenge porn, incitement to violence...  But the idea that we should be shutting down all discussion and take everything at face value is disturbing, to say the least.

The refusal to engage in meaningful debate, resorting to "everyone knows that" or simply saying "I'm not open to other views" is exactly how we become so polarized, even within our friendships, families, and communities.  And while I draw the line at keeping friends who publish racist rants, homophobic insults, or other hate speech, I am generally willing to debate my positions with those who are willing to share and cite credible sources in their argument (credible being peer reviewed, in many cases, or studies that are not funded by the very companies and organizations they support, for example, I would not consider a study on RoundUp by Monsanto to be credible, and I'm willing to debate that issue openly on my page or my blog)

Back in the days of Yahoo!360, and later Multiply (past social media platforms) debates were often lively.  People didn't unfriend each-other, and only a few people got really hot under the collar about the discussions (yeah, they unfriended, but it was  minor).  Back in those days I thought nothing about having 1000 or 2000 followers/friends, and we talked (and sometimes argued) about politics, religion, art, whatever...

Now a'days, people resort to insults and rage over whether or not to install a piece of public art.   As a member of the Nextdoor community mentioned in the article on Petaluma 360, I can testify that the argument has gotten more than heated and that civility has totally broken down. Eventually, I stepped out of the discussion for just that reason.  What's interesting is that I'm neutral on the topic.  While I personally don't care for the aesthetic of the piece (nor do I care much for Dadaism in general), I do understand the value of the piece from an artistic standpoint, and the potential benefits of having such a well known artist's work in the city. To read the discussion, however, is to see that people see it as something that will forever make the city a laughingstock, is a personal insult to "reasonable people" and, in some cases, even some sort of political powerplay to undermine the will of the people.  Some even likened it to Nazi propaganda and referred to it as "dehumanizing".   BTW, it's a collection of bathtubs on stilts.  Hardly what's going to bring down the North Bay.

I see this as a problem.  I think there are things we should simply stand in opposition to and recognize there should be no discussion of.  I won't debate the idea, for example, that some ethnicities are inferior to others, at least not with individuals who are members of White Supremacist organizations, because they do not want to hear evidence, they want to spout prejudice. I don't think bathtubs on stilts should warrant the same amount of ire.

And I think there's a difference.  I think that there are people who do want to have meaningful dialog about all sorts of issues, including political, social and religious issues, but people are so defensive and shut down today that they don't want to hear anything beyond what they've chosen to believe thus far.  That the current state of polarization has reached beyond liberal/conservative and people are shutting down, unwilling to hear other views or risk changing their minds on an issue. 

Recently I got in a discussion with a woman who stated that liberals were doing themselves a disservice by protesting and caring about so many issues, that we should pick one and stand behind it as a group, because all those issues were dividing us and making us weaker, as opposed to the Right, which had a couple key, solid messages.   I disagreed, because I believe that there are many spokes in our umbrella, and that having groups shore up each one strengthens the umbrella as a whole.  In the long run, we agreed to disagree on that, but while I do absolutely think that we should continue, each of us, to work with our strengths, that we also need to be mindful that there are other issues as well.

I would not, however, have unfriended this woman had the discussion happened on Facebook, nor do I rule her out as a friend IRL.

When we get together with people we care about, we talk about things we care about.  Since we're not all identical people, those may be different things, and we may come to odds over them at times.  That doesn't devalue the relationship.

Social media, however, has made that kind of thinking somewhat obsolete.  It's for posting funny cat videos, our lunch, and quick posts about outings with the family.  Now I do want to see funny cat videos, what you had for lunch, and your vacation stories, but if we're friends, I also want to know about what you are passionate about, what you care about, what you find meaning in. I want us to learn from each other.  I want to be introduced to new ideas and experiences.  But I do not want you to use the "n- word".

I've stopped keeping pages with thousands of followers.  I have, at current count, 25.  They are family, and/or people I either consider friends or hope to develop friendships with.  They are people with whom I dialog.  Before the internet, we had small communities: our church, our neighbors, members of our clubs or organizations, people we got together with in various situations and related to each other on various topics.  True, we likely weren't talking to our co-workers about our religion (unless they were members of other circles in our lives) but we weren't shouting on soap boxes to hundreds or thousands, we were relating intimately to a few.

Those near, tight bonds were interconnected with other near, tight bonds, a social web that made for a deeper involvement and, perhaps, more impact than shouting out to hundreds who have no stake in your voice.

Recently someone on my FB list told me she was building a new page, one for people she was closer to, people who didn't silence her, people who didn't use hate speech, people with whom she wanted to keep touch and have meaningful dialog with.

The web allows us to do that, rather locally or across miles.

It may be a better use of social media than to shout into the void, be silenced, or post endless videos of cats playing the piano.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Rivertown Revival

amazing Steam Punk!

Today Cay and I went to Rivertown Revival, a one day festival celebrating the Petaluma River. I'm not sure how the festival started, but now it's a mix music, steampunk, a little artsy/ burning man, and local food and drink.  All in all, pretty fun. 

There were quiet a few people dressed in various styles of steampunk, some of the outfits quite elaborate and well constructed.

We heard early that there weren't many vendors this year, and I found myself a little disappointed, although there were two or three who were totally fabulous, the children's area and the top of the hill where there were some performances and the weddings are held were much larger than the shopping areas.

There was also a limited amount of food, which surprised me, although there were multiple beer booths.

There was a tent for "animal oddities" although there was really nothing odd in the animals, they were pretty typical animals used for wildlife outreach:  a number of snakes, an African Crested porcupine, a couple small raptors,  some of the larger lizards, and some tarantulas. 

For me the best part of the day was making contact with Petaluma Wetlands Alliance, one of the organizations I'm thinking of volunteering with.  Their docent classes start in January.

So, numerous stages of music, but the thing that struck me is that apparently this is THE time and place for weddings.  Constructed on a hill, there is a small wedding "chapel":

looking up the hill from the back

the front and seating area
Wedding dresses outside the tents

and there is also a nearby area where wedding dresses flutter on clotheslines, perhaps for those who didn't get theirs before hand?  But weddings there are a mere $5, booked in advance, of course.

There was also a public art creation area, some fun constructions (including the big metal rhino) and an area which had both henna and facepainting, which probably could have been two areas instead, which booked up so quickly Cay and I had to forgo getting henna this year (next year we'll go there FIRST and schedule)

The big rhino... at an entertainment space.
public art creation
just a really fun looking booth

Of course, it was all really for and about the river...

or maybe it really was more all about the steam punk...

Monday, July 9, 2018


Cay and I went to a local paint night with Art2Nite.  I find myself going to these regularly, because they're fun and relaxing.  This was Cay's first time, and I'm thinking we'll be going to a few more!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Jasmine Fuego

Today there were a lot of opportunities for things to do, including the Art and Garden Show downtown. What we decided to do was to go to church in the late morning then, later in the day, to a house party, both featuring this amazing singer who is involved in the Emergent Strategy, which involves self and local change to change the world. Jasmine Fuego was on the last leg of the Emergence Tour when she stopped in Petaluma. She also sings with the Thrive Choir in Oakland, a choir grounded in the music of social justice.

Her work is available online on YouTube and Spotify, and in addition to booking small house parties, she also sings at social justice events, and sells her CDs online.

This is one of the songs she sang both at church this morning and at the house party this evening:

To learn more about Jasmine, her art and her work, visit her website at

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Today's Rally

Today's immigration rally in Petaluma:

a small part of the gathering before the rally, where we heard speakers from our government and community
Cay holding our sign before the march.

I don't have extensive photos from the march, as I no longer have a camera, however, Cailin took film and video,  which I'll link when she gets it edited and uploaded.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Pining for the Coast

one of my photos of a humpback bubble feeding in Monterey Bay, Nov 2016

This past week I've been home a lot with very little sleep and feeling pretty rough. It's not going to be any better this week, but I'm holding out some hope for the week after that.  The long and short of it is that as a result, I've spent a great deal of time online, which resulted in two things:  The deletion of most of my Facebook posts and friends and a very restricted news feed, and looking at a lot of photos of whales from whale watching groups I do still follow.

and those whales... those whales!  They've literally brought me to tears I miss them so much.

I get this kind of ennui being away from the coast.  The redwoods outside my window are beautiful, and Petaluma is a safe and lovely city, but there are times, many MANY times, when I can't stop thinking about the aquarium and the whale watching.

I've found a company in San Francisco that does all day whale watching out by the Farallons for $99, which is a great price for a day trip!  Of course, they warn you to dress in layers (they compare it to an arctic or moon expedition) so I'm a little worried about just how cold it is during the summer months when the humpbacks are out there.  I'm hoping to save up to go in mid-late July or early August, since it seems there are so many humpbacks feeding off the LA and Orange County coast right now.

and I'm hoping that I'll be well enough at that point to go.

Today I realized that I've pretty much been living in my over-sized Cabrillo Aquarium sweatshirt, even when it's 80 degrees.  I suppose some of it is because it's just so darn comfortable, but I think it also is comforting.  I had thought, before leaving LA, to buy a second one and actually went into the gift shop a few times to look at them, but then thought maybe I wouldn't wear it once I got out here to Petaluma.  Now I'm kicking myself, because I'd definitely want another.  This one is getting pretty well worn and stained.

Tomorrow my daughters will be here, and they want to go to the beach.  I'm not sure I will be well enough to do that, but I so want to get down to the ocean, to see if I can see any of the whales from the shore (I'd have to be up on the cliffs to see the humpbacks, and the grays are long gone). 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mother of Exiles

People forget that the other name for the Statue of Liberty is Mother of Exiles.   While I was preparing signage for the June 30th march (yes, it's still on, more about that after the video) I found this video, and wanted to share.

I love the music, but I also love the stories told throughout the video, meeting the immigrants, finding out where they came from, then seeing their place in the nation.

and immigrants DO have a place in this nation.

Now, about the march on June 30...

A lot of people are sitting back with a sigh of relief that Trump has signed an order which supposedly keeps families together.  It doesn't exactly do that.  It states that kids can only be taken if their welfare is at stake, which is pretty much the excuse used to separate them in the first place.  The Flores Act allowed for the immediate removal of unaccompanied minors from detention centers into "least restrictive environments".  It was not designed to be used to tear children from their mothers and send them across country other detention centers.  In 2015, a federal judge was quite specific about refugee detention:
"Judge Gee ordered that the families that did not pose the risk of evading law enforcement officials be released." [Time]
Now, however, the president has ordered those crossing the border seeking asylum turned over to the Department of Defense rather than ICE (part of Homeland Security).

We are treating immigrants and refugees as political prisoners.  I'd hate to think that this is what they have planned for Guantanamo Bay, our most infamous DoD detention center.

The Mother of Exiles would weep, could tears fall from her copper clad eyes...

The New Colossus

   Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, 
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
he wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It's not a gap, it's a chasm.

It isn't like some of us didn't see this happening.  We were told we were liberal nut jobs, called snowflakes, offered tin foil hats.  And while Obama never came for people's guns, Trump now has concentration camps.

I suppose we could smugly sit back on our couches and say "I told you so."   Some of us who voted scratch our heads at how the country could have let this happen, while others of us saw this under-welling of fascism forming back in the late 80s and early 90s, and were shouted down.  After all, the Nazis, the White Supremacists, they were all tiny minorities who could never come to power...



and yet here we are, crossing over the threshold into ugly, with a president who has all but crowned himself while one side of congress sits back so as not to anger their "base" and the other side tries to reach a compromise, some midpoint between mediocrity and utter madness, when they should be pushing for fairness and excellence.

Over the past decades, the left has compromised their way into the right, while the right shifts ever rightwards.  It's a tug of war, and the only way to stay in the midpoint is to have balance, and if one side is tugging with all their might, the other side has to tug as hard.

This week's revelations have a lot of liberals who believe in "standing in the gap" or reaching across to bring together both sides, finally realizing that in order to stand in the gap you must shift your position, not just your point of view, toward the other side.  Believe me, the right knows this, which is why they don't shift.

I've recently cut most of my social media ties, and no longer use my Facebook page to shout rage into the echo chamber.  It's like lying in bed at home with the covers over my head screaming at the top of my lungs "there are monsters out there".  Everyone in the sound of my voice has already heard it.  I know, because they're screaming, too.

What all that cowering and screaming does is create an air of helplessness. Do you think everyone in post WWI Germany thought that Hitler would rise to power?  or wanted him to?  Today I read an article in The Root titled White People are Cowards. There is, of course, an element of truth in this. It's also divisive. Perhaps it's meant as a goad, to shame the silent white into speaking up, speaking out, or taking action.  As a majority, you'd think that whites would feel empowered.  My experience is that many white liberals do not,  that we are, as a whole, too worried, too soft, too considerate.  As a group, liberals are afraid to call out evil, because while "actions" are evil, "people" are not.

I am here to say that if you revel in evil acts, you are evil. If you believe that stealing kids is OK because their parents had the audacity to come to our border and request asylum, something that they are allowed under international law, then you are evil.  If you believe that Black people are less human, less intelligent, less capable, less divine than white people, you are evil.  If you believe that Jews are secretly pulling the strings of the world economy and need to be stopped, you're paranoid AND evil.

For the last 30 years I've been worried, and I've started quoting more and more often from Malcolm X's speech, The Ballot or the Bullet.  Now I understand that a lot of people would distance themselves from Malcolm X in this period because of his beliefs surrounding the history of mankind and the origin of white people in particular, but I've always found that understandable (if not excusable) as the product of his social environment.  What IS important in The Ballot or the Bullet is the idea that
it's time now for you and me to become more politically mature and realize what the ballot is for; what we're supposed to get when we cast a ballot; and that if we don't cast a ballot, it's going to end up in a situation where we're going to have to cast a bullet. It's either a ballot or a bullet. [Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet, 1964]
The right is already talking about taking up arms against the left.  We've seen it in the NRA responses to school shootings.

We need to stop pretending/hoping/praying that this is a mere difference in political opinion.  We need to stop talking about it, and start actively resisting the oppression and fascism in this nation.  We need to vote, we need to march, and we need to wake up and face the ugly truth that there are factions in this nation that would gleefully make it another Nazi Germany, that we have allowed the atrocities to become normalized, and that we've granted evil the reigns of power in our country.

It's time to take to the streets and to the ballot box.  It's time to march, to show solidarity, to gain power and hope in the numbers of those who earnestly desire a nation of fairness and freedom.  The ballot is always preferable to the bullet, but the shots have already been fired from the right, literally, in our churches and our schools, sanctioned by the gun lobby while politicians offer nothing but "thoughts and prayers".

The left has to offer more than our thoughts and prayers.  We need to offer aid, resistance, strength, and hope.  All that comes from action.  If the talk on social media doesn't promote action, than what are we doing except wallowing in helplessness and pain?  That emotional overload, that feeling of being totally overwhelmed and helpless in the face of this madness, is exactly what the right counts on to keep us in line, helpless, as our nation erupts into evil.



One thing you can do, one little start, is to take a couple hours out of your day on June 30 to take part in the march Families Belong Together.  There are marches all over the country, in cities and towns, and if you click the link or the image above, you can go to the website and search out a local march or rally.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Holding Pattern

I found this graphic today going through one of my photo archives looking for something else.  Actually, it's perfect for right now.  I keep having this little false starts when it comes to making plans and wanting to get out.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel in some respects, but I'm not in the clear yet.

Tomorrow I'll be spending the morning in Sonoma Valley Hospital for medical testing, and that, and the blood work next week, will pretty much determine what the direction is going to be for managing my health conditions (well, at least the digestive portion of them).  I've pretty much resigned myself to the possibility that there is nothing that can be done at this point, and that this is my life, to deal with as best I can.

I've been afraid to go hiking... heck, some nights I'm afraid to go to sleep!... but I think things will be better when my daughter arrives, because she likes to do a lot of the same things I do, and I'd feel a lot safer on the trails with someone who knows (and can respond to) my medical issues.

I think it'll be good for Cay as well, although it feels kinda like a step back to not be living each in our own apartments, it's also going to free us up to do the things we enjoy outside the apartment, and I don't think I'm the only one getting my life back in doing this.

Today, however, I'm spending some down time, getting ready for tomorrow, just kinda coasting. I've got some good books (well, I've got my Kindle) and I've got my paints organized (yesterdays project) if I feel particularly inspired... and I can hold out for a couple more weeks.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Interesting Times

There is a reason "May you live in interesting times" is a curse.

My time has been interesting, but probably only to me.  I haven't done much except the mundane day to day things: grocery shopping, house cleaning, paying bills, and going to the doctor.  There's been a little drama with the medical stuff which has taken up a lot of my time, but scheduling and rescheduling medical procedures does not make for good blogging.

I feel like I need to get back to myself, and that my entire life has been put on hold while we discover the scope of my medical issues and develop some sort of plan to deal with it all.

My daughter is coming out at the end of the month, and I hope that will help with some of the issues, like transportation, or helping me with the day to day stuff when I'm feeling too sick to do much.  Once she gets here I'll be back to exploring and hiking. Recently I've been living with the fear I could have a medical problem out on the trail alone and there would be no-one around to help me (or dial 911)  She enjoys the same kind of walks I do, and has a lot of the same interests when it comes to visiting parks and green spaces, so I get a hiking buddy who has experience with recognizing my symptoms of low blood sugar.  I'll feel a lot safer.

I'm ready for a little positive interesting times.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Health and Money

It seems that if I'm not sharing news stories on social media, my social media ends up being all about health and money.

Health and money... money and health.  Trying to make ends meet on Social Security.  Trying to get the medical tests scheduled.  Struggling with medical bills that should have been/are/ might be covered by insurance.  Dealing with pain, blood sugar drops, anemia, migraines...

And yet these are the two issues most on my mind these days, and the issues that make me feel so isolated.  I don't socialize as much.  I have no money to go places, and the free places? Well, with the way I've been feeling, being anywhere too long, or sometimes just leaving the apartment is out of the question.  I haven't even gotten the dog to the dog park in days.

Things aren't DIRE.  My rent and utilities (in fact all my bills) are up to date.  I have food in the apartment, probably enough to last until my social security arrives.  What I don't have is money for the iron formula my doctor wants me to take, and money to get a couple pairs of pants (I only have two).  I'm not dying anytime soon that I know of.  I'm pretty sick most nights, and that makes me tired and gives me grief with pain and migraines during the day, but it's not like chronic illness is something new to me... and that I don't expect an increasing share of bad days as I age.

But what this all does is isolate me, and makes me feel even more like an outsider, someone who doesn't belong. 

Here in Petaluma, people have or come from money.  People have much higher incomes, and those who don't have family members (or ex-husbands) who are well heeled and pay for their apartments and give them spending money.  It's hard to explain, "No, I don't have $5, not even in my bank accounts, so I won't be going to senior bingo", or to exercise class, or to any of the other things around here that "just" cost $5.  I gave my last $5 to the senior center.  That day I saw the lawyer and went to a Middle Eastern dance exercise class.  Obviously one of those things they let me in free for.

I don't have people over here. I have limited seating.  My futon is just about it, that and two wooden chairs, and a slipcover chair that currently doesn't have a slipcover on it.  I need to replace the futon mattress (or the futon with a couch!) and get the cover for the chair, then I can invite a few people over.  Of course, it's hard to meet people to invite over when I don't get out much.

Now I'm not one of those seniors with overflowing apartments, with all the walls covered and everything stacked and packed throughout the apartment.  I believe in minimalism.  The one neighbor who came into my apartment looked around for a comfortable place to sit, and said "well, this is nice.  I suppose this is all you really need" but couldn't sit in the too low chair, and was too uncomfortable on the lumpy futon.  My walls are pretty bare right now (at least until I get some frames for some of my prints and photographs) and I do want to get some painting done, but there is hardly room on my little table for my printer AND my little folding easel. 

I know things will get better with time.  I have some medical tests coming up next week that will hopefully give me some answers. I have a financial plan which has allowed me to steadily increase my credit rating and pay off the car repairs, vet bills, and cost of my eyeglasses from last year, and I've got a shopping list of lower cost but still fairly nice things on that I can use to at least make my apartment more manageable.  But so far it's been some of those little things (toasters and the second hand smoothie machine that doesn't smoothie anything, the desk chair from the rummage sale, the spring coat...) that has kept me with less money in my pocket to do some of the things I want to do socially. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Where were you in '62?

This weekend is Petaluma's salute to American Graffiti, which was filmed, in part, right here in Petaluma.

(click image to enlarge)
Map from Cruisin' the Boulevard Inc. 
This afternoon the celebration kicked off in the parking lot of the shopping center next door to the apartments, with a speech by the mayor and viewing of classic cars which would, tomorrow morning, be cruising through downtown Petaluma.

Of course I meandered over to take a look.  Many of the classic cars were from years after 1962, including some really nice Mustangs and some Camaros (I favor the former over the latter) and some reproductions (including the police car) and some of the actual cars and props from the movie.

the mayor kicks things off, and announces scholarship winners

this year's t-shirts and other memorabilia for sale

line from the movie, written and signed by Candy Clark, who played "Debbie"

"That's almost a motorcycle, and I just LOVE motorcycles!"

There is simply no way for me to have photographed all the cars.  In addition to those in the reserved spaces, there were many classic cars scattered throughout the parking lot.  Apparently, this was the biggest Petaluma's Salute to American Graffiti yet.

Here's a taste:

these cars were actually outside the main area, there were way more cars than reserve spaces!

inside the reserve area, you can see the booths in the background.

and there was one vehicle... obviously NOT a classic, which took advantage of a spot in front of three grocery stores... advertising ANOTHER grocery store:

There were also silent auctions and other fundraisers going on during this, some to buy AEDs (emergency defibrillators), and some to support the Petaluma High School auto shop program.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mothers (to)Day

When I was a young mother, holidays and birthdays were planned far in advance, and celebrated to the fullest.  I doubt that when my daughter was 2 that she understood that spending $2000 on Christmas presents and clothing and food and the tree was an outrageous amount for the 1980s.  I'm not sure my son understood that the ponies I'd rented for his birthday one year didn't arrive because of the wet weather.  I've hired clowns, baked for days and sometimes weeks before holidays, made my own Easter Chocolate Rabbits (and painted them in detail with dyed white chocolate) and no matter how poor we were (there was a year I cut up my towels to make teddy bears, cut up my clothing to make dolls, and bought a dowel to make a hobby horse) that every effort was made to make that day special, to make my kids aware that they were the center of my attention, and that this was all for THEM.

By the time they became teens, a lot of that fell by the wayside, and I would step aside and let them celebrate with their friends more.  They weren't as interested in spending the time with mom, and I was disappointed in some regards, but in others, happy, because this was the kind of independence that healthy kids develop:  they start to fledge.

I think that's where Mother's Day comes in, because the mom is left back at the nest, in most cases, when the youngsters fledge.  Her work isn't done until they leave the nest for good.  So she's still sticking around to support her babies until she knows they can handle it on their own.  Now with birds, they take off one day and there's no looking back. With humans, that varies to some degree.

I am not so old yet as to be feeble, but I'm not a young chick anymore. I think my kids still picture me as that fighting single mom who managed to buy them a house, who drove them cross country with few possessions to start a new life, who always managed somehow.  Oh, they know on a rational level that there's nothing superhuman about me, but they still expect, on some level, superhuman results.  I think they think I'm out here, a thousand miles away, adventuring.  And yeah, to some degree I do that... I mean, I keep LIVING, not merely surviving, the best I can.  But on most days I have to deal with chronic pain,  I have to wonder "is this new tumor cancer this time around?", I have to struggle with keeping food on the table and a roof over my head.  Life isn't all whale-watching boats and hikes in National Parks.

I am not Super Mom.

So on days like today, when I haven't seen any of my kids in about two years, when it's a day celebrating motherhood, I try to make that day as special for me as I made holidays for them.  Today I'd planned special meals for myself from breakfast to my evening treat of dipped strawberries and red wine.  I planned on making it a housework-free day.  I planned to just spend the day celebrating motherhood.

But to be honest, I'm just not feeling it.

My apartment is in the front of the building, near guest parking.  Today I'll have a front row seat to the same events that played out at Easter, only magnified:  cars rolling up and unloading men and women with flower and balloon arrangements to see their parents, some with grandchildren in tow.  Elderly (a little older than me) women in their Sunday best being lead out to cars by their grown sons for a Mothers Day Brunch.  This place is a hive of activity on holidays.  Then there are a few of us, the women like me, who remain behind, alone.  And while being alone is tough on a day to day basis, on birthdays and holidays it can feel like a gut-punch.

Maybe I expect too much.  I don't expect ponies and clowns.  And I can't say exactly what it is I want, what I need from today.  I just didn't want it to be something more than the little joy of knowing the laundry machines would be open for use because everyone else was out celebrating.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Oh, Sonoma!

There is a bit of backstory to today's trip, part of which involves getting lost coming home from Vacaville a week ago, and part of which involves a medical appointment. But I'm going to skip the details today, and go right to the photos, mostly because I'm tired and anemic and I have a whole lot to say about the General, about the Bear Flag Revolt, and about living history museums and amazing rangers and docents, which I just don't have the energy to get into right now. So, do what I'm doing. Enjoy just a few of the 6 dozen photos I took today:

a corner of the rose garden in the town square.  It also holds a seating area. The square has a number of fountains, two ponds, a playground, an amphitheater, and the city hall, and every inch of it is amazingly beautiful.  Unlike many town squares, this one was very much in use, families playing, tourists taking photos with the flowers and fountains, and elderly people sitting and just enjoying the afternoon weather. 

The Bear Flag Monument in the town square. You can make out the playground and the amphitheater behind it.  California was it's own nation for 25 days as a result of the Bear Flag Revolt. 

The barracks.  This is on the property of General Vellejo, who owned the rancho which is now Petaluma Adobe State Park.  The general lived in Sonoma, and retired to a newer house in the "back" of the park (I didn't get there today) and the day to day operation of the rancho in Petaluma was left to his hirelings.

a caretta in the courtyard.  I pretty much end up photographing every caretta I see.  I haven't figured out why.

a very old reproduction of the original Bear Flag.  The one intact original flag known (story goes there were four made) was sent to San Francisco to the museum for safe keeping decades ago, where it subsequently was destroyed in a fire as a result of the Great Earthquake.

The Mission.  The LAST mission on the mission trail, and the only one to be built under Mexican (as opposed to Spanish) rule, and an important barrier to the southward spread of the Russian Orthodox Church, which had been working it's way down from what is now Alaska.

Across the street from the mission is the old gold-rush era saloon. It's closed and used for storage.  The building belongs to the park system, but since it hasn't been retrofitted to meet earthquake standards, it can't be opened to the public.

The mission chapel.  The chapel itself has been reworked a number of times, and contains elements from Spanish, Mexican, Miwok design.

California wild poppies. They're EVERYWHERE.  These are in front of the mission.

I'm guessing this is where the Bear Flag was actually raised.  There's a huge timber flag poll a couple feet from this marker, which sits across the street from the barracks. 

I hope, at some point, to revisit some of this and tell some of the history and describe better some of the points of interest in Sonoma.  I look forward to visiting there again.