Saturday, January 31, 2009


I was tagged by Indie over at The Bitten Apple. The challenge is this:
  • Post the 6th picture in your 6th folder.
  • Post that picture on your blog along with the story that goes with it.
  • Tag 6 other people that you know or you don't and challenge them to do the same. Let them know in your blog or by email that they've been tagged.
To be honest, the sixth folder in my picture folder actually belonged to Mark. I decided to pass it up because I really didn't know the story behind the 6th picture - it was a motorcycle fender. No bike, just the fender. Who the hell knows what it fit. Actually, I'm sure he does and I'm also sure it sold on e-bay and he has a perfectly good story behind it. But, that's his story to tell.

I skipped past Mark's and on to my next which was a folder of the trip he and I took to the east coast in 2005. We flew into Virginia with the intent of tracking some family history and gravesites. We had the absolute best fish and chips dinner in Hampton, Virginia - the biggest slab of flounder I've ever had laid over a pile of fries. As we drove the Chesapeake waterfront after dinner, the tide was coming up and was actually over the curb and in the parking places for a half block past the docks. I couldn't resist testing my flotation and it would appear I can actually walk on water. I'm glad this game didn't require the eighth picture or Avis would see our rental car DRIVING on water.

So now, as is required by the game, I will tag a few fellow bloggers that I don't know well:
  1. Joe at Eureka POZ hoping for a stellar shot of Ruby.
  2. Humboldt Turtle at Humboldtia - a good chance to get to know one of the newer bloggers
  3. Bob Flame Ranger who has the worst job ever - he has to go to the beach. Ugh!
  4. Jen over at House of Sand and Fog - she has the guts to ride the waves.
  5. Let's see what CPR can find over at Eureka Standard
  6. Another fairly new blogger, Sohumborn, with fascinating SoHum insight.
Check out their blogs if you haven't yet. See what they do with this challenge.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


After 33 years of marriage, shouldn't we be doing better than THIS?! Seriously. A crappy table with mismatched chairs for our family meals? Actually, this is what we managed to cobble together after the great table migration we experienced this week.

We were using an old table as a kitchen "island" - my way of making tolerable an woefully intolerable kitchen. I finally replaced that with an actual kitchen cart that, while smaller, actually is more attractive and offers some additional storage in the cabinets beneath.

As luck would have it, I also decided it was time to sell our overly ornate dining room set. It was very pretty but its claw feet and press-back chairs were lipstick on a pig - they just didn't fit our very plain, OLD farmhouse. I want to replace it with a simpler design but first this one had to go. I've had the set listed on Craigslist (because it's FREE and I'm CHEAP) with no action so finally listed it in the Tri-City

So, Sunday night, I listed the old table on freecycle. Monday morning the Tri-City was printed and apparently available to anyone knowledgeable enough to get the fresh paper from the office. No sooner had Mark handed off the free table then someone calls on the dining room set and it's sold. It occurs to us Monday night, we have no place to sit and eat. DANG!

We've come to enjoy our dinner in the living room with the view of the dreamy Mark Harmon on NCIS but breakfast is another matter. We read the paper at the table over coffee and toast. We ...... don't have a table. Mark thought of using the ironing board - a wee bit narrow but it's long! Then I remembered the sewing table. At least it's flat. So we pulled out every ugly chair we had hidden in the far reaches of the house and the kitchen step-stool so now have a place to breakfast. If this was a restaurant, no one would get a tip. The ambiance sucks!

The vacancy left by the table would seem to be a good time to get the piano gone. We've had it on loan for the years when Glo took lessons but, save for Monica's Shane, no one tickles the ivories much anymore. I called the owner and she's trying to find a large corner so it can remain in her family. Hopefully, the piano will go away while there is room to maneuver in the vacant dining room. In the meantime, Sunday dinner looms. Maybe a Japanese theme would be good. We have a coffee table and a few pillows.....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


While last Sunday's bob around Trinidad Head hardly made me fearless, it did toughen me. Prior to that paddle, anything other than a glassy surface would keep me from the water. To be out on the bay enjoying a smooth paddle, only to be caught off guard by the wake stirred up by a passing vessel would totally ruin the excursion. I am now much more daring. Of course, with courage comes the sore muscles that I'm still feeling a couple days later.

Each day, on the way south to the CR campus, we drive over the Elk River Slough. Often, the morning light tempts me to stop in a spot CHP would NOT approve of to record the sky reflected in the water. Looking east from the south bound lanes is pretty in the morning but the view disappears when you're driving northbound. Being ON the water is the only option. When I took up kayaking, I knew the Elk River Slough was a journey I wanted to take and, last Saturday, I got my wish.

This was a much smaller group - just five of us interested in the quiet paddle - but we made it back behind the mobile home park on the lower east side of Humboldt Hill. We paddled till the snags would allow us to paddle no further. We spooked a few cows grazing in the bottoms. While cows make for a bucolic scene, quite frankly their runoff made staying IN the boat the only option; I did not want to swim in that swill and don't much care for the idea of it flushing into my ocean but I suppose the fish have survived this long, right? Right?!Two and a half hours of pretty much constant strokes left my arms like noodles. As we exited the slough into the Bay, we felt mighty small as we watched the passage of a fuel barge and it's escorts then braved the chop whipped up by the wind to exit back on the beach on the North Spit. One more paddle survived and relished.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Heading north, through the predawn fog heading to Trinidad for my first "club" paddle and my first paddle in surf of any sort. The butterflies had long since been replaced by frogs, jumping up and down on my hearty, multi-grain breakfast. Up until now, my paddles were in calm water save for the wakes kicked up by a fishing boat or &*%#$ jet ski. Today, the group from Explore North Coast would be launching in Trinidad Bay. I was assured there would be members willing to coach me through this and I knew I'd never learn if I didn't just get out there so, nervous as I was, I couldn't weenie out. "Prepare to launch at 8:00" so I was on my way by 7:00 having loaded the kayak the night before.I wasn't the first to arrive so was able to follow the more experienced members to the sand near the launch ramp. Still dark but clearing with promises of a beautiful day, we lined-up our boats on the beach and watched the sun rise.Three of us who had not yet experienced wave entries received general instruction on the impending entrance through the small waves...drag the kayak to the water's edge, climb in, "knuckle-drag" and scoot yourself towards the water, when the water lifts you up, paddle .... hard!. I got some help from a few members who pulled me a little farther into the water so I wouldn't have to wait quite so long, waited for a larger wave to come towards me and lift me then....paddled like a mad-woman. I could hear them on the beach yelling "Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!" as my bow cut through a small breaker and I reached the calmer water. WOOOOOOOO! I'm committed now.

The rest of the 19 members launched into the bay and we followed the leader host south. While some members maneuvered through the "rock gardens", we sat and watched while the process of gauging the currents was explained. The water surges in to cover smaller rocks, allowing the kayaker to float over, between larger rocks, continuing through the entire outcropping. Looks like fun but my skills aren't quiet there yet.

We headed to Prisoner Rock and some members were paddling between it and it's smaller neighbor. I wasn't sure if I was up for that and the host assured me I didn't have to, others were going around, but he felt sure I could do it. They coached me through the timing of the surge then the obligatory "Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!" until I came through the divide unscathed. As we continued towards Trinidad Head, I started getting more unsure. Watching the horizon rise and fall as the enormous swell passed under us was unnerving to say the least but somehow relaxing at the same time. We sat just around the point, bobbing and chatting while two porpoises swam around us. Looking up, I saw this awesome view of Trinidad Light, an angle you must be on the water to enjoy. We watched to the north as some of the braver club members surfed the waves on the beach side of the head -- not for me, thank you! We headed back in, through the churning water that is deflected off the Head. We returned through the gap at Prisoner Rock - a little more interesting with the swells coming from your back but the same theory. Sat to watch the blowhole that occasionally explodes near the pier before aiming our boats for the last challenge of the day... surf landing.
The more experienced went in first to show us how it's done...then the host directed the three surf rookies in, one at a time. Standing on the beach with his paddle held vertically, I aim for him. As he pumped it up and down, I paddle harder, he swings it vertical to direct me to stop then paddle backwards a bit then.... he holds it vertical again and pumps it up and down....again with the Paddle! Paddle! Paddle! As the last little wave deposits me on the sand, a guardian angel came forward to drag me out of the wash, allowing me to disembark more gracefully. I had made it. The huge swells that I felt sure would take me down just added to the day. This was an amazing day I won't soon forget.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


As I drove past the mailroom this morning, I looked toward's Phyllis' regular parking place, knowing her car would not be there, thinking about visiting again then, somehow knowing I wouldn't.

I was at my desk, talking to a prospective student about the program when two coworkers entered my office .... red-eyed. "Not good", I think. I finish my conversation with the student, knowing they were waiting and knowing what they were there to tell me - Phyllis had passed away in the night. I wasn't surprised. I felt she was gone.

I'm still struck by the speed of it all. From sixty to zero in just a few months and I wondered if that was better than having lots of time to prepare. Is it better to KNOW for months or even years that your end is coming? Like the lyrics in my blog title, inspired by Warren Zevon, who in his final months put out his final album. A dark but sadly humorous collection that includes a cover of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". A warped man he was. He had time to prepare as did his family, at least as much as you can prepare for that sort of thing. He obviously found a creative spot in the sadness to create poetry that would turn into lyrics out of what he was thinking.

Going quickly, as Phyllis did, was tough on her family. It was a whirlwind of hospital, doctors, surgery, Hospice, visitors (like me) that they'd never met but who came to see a friend and bring food (it's what we do). It must have been like a bad dream but, again, was over as fast as it started. I'm sure they didn't have time to prepare. I hope their Native American beliefs will guide them through the adjustment and they will be able to see her off with the help of friends and family.

Mark and I have a "final preparations" folder. Neither of us relish the thought of planning such things and, honestly, intend to hold "wakes" rather than funerals. We have ideas for music;. He wanted Dust in the Wind by Kansas but, geez, that's so overdone. I was a big Elton John fan in the 70's so had picked out Funeral for a Friend years ago but it seems so cliche' now Maybe it's time to revisit our plans. You never know what's around the bend. Maybe I'll go with some Warren Zevon.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Laugh Laugh, I Thought I'd Cry

This should make up for my last weepy post. It was sent to me by my childhood BFF and not a moment to soon. You are welcome to return to it whenever you need to laugh till you cry. And thank you, Debbie (yes, we were Deb & Debbie), for the forward.

Monday, January 5, 2009

On a Winter's Day In the Rain

I drove through campus at the end of this crazy Monday with mixed emotions. With the morning came the start of several classes in our department, an influx of nearly 70 people - excitement and confusion abound. The afternoon brought trepidation, the stomach churning that comes with the unknown. I was heading to visit a sick friend and, to be honest, I'm not very good at it. A coworker is faced with, not one but, two deadly diagnoses, either of which would be frightening. I'm a crier on a GOOD day so the emotions of standing at the side of a "sick bed" drain me. But old age has brought me to the realization that visiting the sick is not about me but about bringing comfort to someone who has been dealt a tough hand. I hope I'm up to the task of small talk and a positive outlook.

P has been on campus a little longer than my six years, the queen of our mailroom. I don't know her beyond our visits over piles of envelopes which have been regular and even daily at times, talking about families, often disagreeing about local events. She keeps a library of James Patterson books from which a number of us circulated the latest titles. She has been married for as long as I have with two grown sons and a young daughter, a middle-schooler who has been a joy to her parents but is now faced with a critically ill mom.

So I drove across town, frantically bumping through the music on my iPod to avoid anything that might bring tears. Finally... Santana! Thank you, Carlos.

I know I gave no comfort to her family and sat with P for only a few minutes since she wasn't feeling well. I brought her some chocolate for a time when she was feeling up to it and held her hand a bit. When I left, I was struck with the fact that, only two months ago, she was at work wondering if the nagging pain was a returning back issue or a recurring kidney stone. I wonder if I'm doing everything I can to assure the health of my family and even if there is any such assurance. Then the tears came.

My blog title came from "White Bird" which came to mind easily when I remembered listening to the song on her stereo in the mailroom and learning she was a big fan of David LaFlamme and his band, "It's a Beautiful Day". "White a golden cage...on a winter's the rain..... " So, I will say a prayer and listen to White Bird a few more times and hope that she has the strength to fight everything she is faced with.