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.

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