No Sleep

I blame the Diet Coke I drank at dinner last night, haven’t been drinking them lately.  Got my mind spinning all over the place.

While I physically and mentally prepare for my trip to Seattle I’m busy looking up routes and Zillow houses.  That’s been my favorite pastime, Zillow.  It’s a good indicator of what’s going on in that town too, the prices of houses reflect the community.  One time I looked up Redding to see how inexpensive the houses were.  I flew up for a fishing trip and found out why…it looks like everyone’s on meth.  I’ve never seen so many people in their 20’s looking really unhealthy.  My stroll to the Sundial was like the Walking Dead.

Those are just my observations, maybe I was in a bad part of town?  Whenever I go somewhere myself I consider everyone an axe murderer, so I’m pleasantly surprised most of the time.

The coastal route towns look amazing!!  I’ve gone as far as Humboldt (by small plane).  Last year I took a nice trip with the plane to Mendocino for a few days, then on to Humboldt.  Sorry to say, I ran into a meth party in Humboldt I had to get an Uber rescue out of.  Mendocino was a beautiful 2 mile hike to the town on Hwy 1 with no shoulder.  There was no Uber or hardly any cell, I did notice a few cars slow down for me and I was scared.  I thought I could catch the bus back to the small store across from Little River Inn, it was it’s own party shelter.  A woman in a store gave me a ride back when she got off work, she knew.

Those small towns just have no jobs, I get that.  Years ago I drove up the coast to Bodega Bay, thinking that would be a great get-away place.  When I went to the local coffee shop the chat was all spiritual, the Saab convertible didn’t go over well either.  I looked like the bourgeoisie yuppie (before start ups).

I’ll have to plan my route accordingly, maybe I-5 to Eugene & cut over for the day?  It looks like there’s a nice coastal town West of Eugene, Oregon.  Never been to Oregon, only flew over to Seattle last September.

I’ll probably take a week just getting up there, be rested for my friend’s baby instead of a travel day I need to recoup from.

I can’t decide whether I want a small place of my own somewhere or a small plane for my freeloading dream (where I barge in on family to say, “Not sure when I’m leaving?”).  Obviously I’m kidding, I do think about it though.  The places I was looking at in Pacific Grove sold 😦  The one I’d already envisioned myself in my mind and moved in making the studio downstairs into a…studio.

The thing I’m really scared of is my sleep paralysis, I had another episode the night before last making me afraid to go to sleep last night too.  It’s a horrible feeling, you can’t move or talk & I found myself screaming in my dream – thinking I was awake – then nothing but a moan comes out of me until I wake up.  A few months ago I couldn’t breathe, Freddy Krueger stuff.  There’s rarely a time I have a “normal” dream, they’re usually nightmares.  One thing that’s helped is watching Seinfeld before I sleep instead of Law & Order re-runs.

Makes me tired all day, then there’s the incessant rain giving me cabin fever.  Sleeping pills give me vivid dreams then make me medicine tired the next day.  I probably have to worry about my sleeping patterns more than anyone hiding in the woodshed on my trip.

 

 

Rain forevermore

Good thing my house is set up for indoor days right now and still kind of recovering.  By the end of this storm I should be good to go again.  I’m not missing anything, even skiing, by staying home this week.  I just hope my friend’s baby isn’t born in this, Seattle has had more snow than ever and I don’t know if I can get up there in it?  I was planning on driving, Portland looks flooded.

I’ve been making this “Like Water for Chocolate” quilt for the baby.  All my womanly knowledge, including a ton of patience while I seam rip mistakes.  Making these is the only old lady thing I really do, to me they’re like a big puzzle or math problem to figure out.  It helps me concentrate, the second I make a mistake I stop.  Not great for my back, I can only sit in a chair an hour a day at most.

One thing I need to do is get my body ready for a baby schedule.  When I was pregnant, my body naturally adjusted to my boys eating & sleeping schedule.  Right now my body schedule is leisurely waking up to rain.  It’s kind of in hibernation mode 🙂  I don’t want to go up to Seattle to be a guest, I want to be Mary Poppins!!  Haha.

In other artistry endeavors, I donated a panorama photo I did with my drone to Berkeley Yacht Club (BYC).  It turned out really well on canvas, I figured it should go there because I got the whole marina.  It was kind of an accident, I was showing someone else how to use their new drone and did a few things with mine.  I stitched it together in Lightroom, down to the ripples.

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There was someone at BYC saying I should sell them, at first I was flattered.  I did the unfortunate mistake of saying how much the print cost me – it was a Xmas special for $30.  The woman looked really excited for me and said I could sell them for $40!!  I know she meant well, it’s just that if I sold 5 of them my profit would be around $10…maybe.  Is that worth the price of poker??  Sadly, no.

I’m beginning to see more & more that there’s a reason it’s called a “starving artist.”  You have to have a lot of time to get the shots, or sew, then there’s the matter of actually selling it.  When my boys went off to college I was looking up seamstress salaries, starting & ending was $20k.  I might make more with a tin can at the freeway exit?  Tax free.

I did just post something about my drone company (GrandView Services) on LinkedIn and got some hits from someone who works at Facebook, 3DR, Ford.  One of my big clients was Ford GoBike, it’s all swallowed into Cal Engineering & Geology now and really starting to catch on.  For years I was doing it by myself, but to take it to the next level we hired someone.  There’s some saying about innovators burning out, then the next person takes it & runs with it.  That would be me, I started it from absolute scratch and now that it’s a press of a button and catching on, I’m out.

Maybe I’ll go back to it?  I was just showing someone some stuff I did years ago, turns out he does commercials in this area and had outdated info on drones.  The landslide job sites are hard for me…one, no bathrooms.  Another is no cell coverage and since they’re my drones I’m not quick to fly it 10′ off the ground and have it crash or lose it.  There’s a difference between flying your own drone and using the company drone.  I read this saying about chartering that was pretty funny, “Fly it like you stole it.”

Not sure if I connected the dots on this blog post?  That’s OK, that’s the way my fuzzy brain works.

 

Planning next adventure!!

Last year MIA in May was declared, it was almost 3 weeks of driving back from New Mexico through Northern Arizona, hitting the places I’d never been to.  My route from Las Cruces was Santa Fe, Farmington (don’t recommend), Four Corners, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Mammoth, then home.  We had an engagement party where we had to shuffle (adult) kids and dogs around.  I drove my truck to Las Cruces, then flew back to watch the other dog.  When I went back to Las Cruces to pick up my truck I planned to be gone the whole month.

This year is MIA in March to be timed around the birth of my friends first baby.  I’m on-call as self declared adoptive grandma.  My friend is going it alone, she’s an only child and both of her parents have passed.  She’s been talking about it for years, she’s now in her late 30’s.  Having had 2 C-sections, I know I couldn’t change a diaper for over a week.  I left all of March open for her, including the timing of my trip.

It’s a pretty quick flight to Seattle, that shouldn’t be a problem.  Another friend lives on Lopez Island and sent a pic of herself on the ferry with her car going over.  I thought, “I’m driving!”  That way I can take my time going up and see Eugene and Portland, places I’ve never been.  If I time it right, I’d actually be close by when the baby is born and won’t have to book a quick flight or an ungodly drive during the day.

My May trip I paced myself about 6 hour driving days staying around 2 nights at each place (except Farmington, that was just a stop to see Four Corners).  The only thing with that pace is that the first night would be recovering from the drive, one full day to see everything, then pack up for the next drive.  3 nights would have been better at a few places just to get myself together a little.  2 of those nights in Monument Valley were in the back of my truck, with a few naps in the truck bed too.  My next destination should have been the 3 nighter, just to get the red dirt out of my teeth.

I’m spending at least a week helping with the baby in Seattle before I head out to Lopez Island to see my other friend.  There’s a train in Vancouver, Rocky Mountain, that are week long trips.  What I might do is go for that too?  Despite my way to frigg’in long train trip a few weeks ago, I still love trains.  The problem is, I can’t plan it or make reservations – everything’s going to have to be on the fly.

I’ll admit, I can be cheap with hotels getting the best offer not thinking about safety or the sleep I’m not going to get thinking about my safety.  My poor choice of Farmington led me to call my husband to arrange my stay at Lake Powell.  As I scroll through Priceline, that’s something I’m going to have to remember.

Just so any of you decide to do my May route, the choice should have been Durango.  I linked all my blogs to the locations from that trip.

This will be quite a trip, not even sure how long I’ll be gone?  I have my new camera ready, I’ll bring the drone too.  There won’t be any truck sleeping (except naps), it’ll be too cold.  Getting my body ready for the trip, fighting an ear infection and still the bruised tailbone.  Gives me something to look forward to and a reason to get better ASAP!!  It’s been raining here, caught one great pic on my iPhone from a parking garage of the snow on Mt. Diablo yesterday.  Lots of pics if you press the links from my May trip. For not getting a lot of hits on my blog, I’ve sure been writing away when I start adding the links.

 

 

 

Mom-Mode

Not sure if I ever mentioned on this blog that my youngest son is deaf with a cochlear implant?  He decided to get one his junior year of high school, starting out his first week of his senior year recovering from it.  He always qualified, it was a decision I didn’t want to make for him and waited until it was something he wanted.  He actually did all the research on it himself, when he went in he fully intended to have both sides done.  After the one, that was good enough for all of us.

It helped him a lot the first year, although it’s a different sound than actual hearing.  It’s an electronic sound he had to learn how to decipher the sounds.  He wore it for years when he first went off to Northridge for their deaf program in college.  He had somewhat been in the deaf community his first few years of school, he was in a total communication classroom from K-3 grade and mainstreamed in 4th grade.  The program was in Mt. Diablo School District (highly recommend BTW).   We brought him back to Walnut Creek for middle school and high school, much to the financial dismay of the school districts.  That’s for another blog, I will say this, by middle school most parents are forced to go private or continue the uphill battle with the school districts.  We were lucky, he had been in the system since he was 18 months old.  That, and he’s really smart and a good student.

He stuck out Cal State Northridge for a year and a half, it’s my alma mater.  He lived in the deaf dorms which were sign language only, he then started getting some slack from his peers about his implant.  There was a time we were told we were the worst parents ever for letting him get the implant, that the whole family didn’t learn how to sign for him, he was ready to write us all off – almost cultish.  I took him back to his grade school one day on a break and they confirmed that HE was the one who didn’t want to sign.  I should mention with hearing aides he can speak, his hearing loss is at 90 decibels so with the aides plus lip reading he was able to communicate around 6 years old.  I did take some sign language classes for a few years.

I loved Northridge for him, it was convenient for us along with being close to my mom in case of emergency.  He moved into an apartment with some roommates he didn’t like and called it quits.  We brought him home to go to the local junior college for a semester, he realized everyone was gone off to college.  Someone he met at the local JC mentioned New Mexico State’s PGM (Pro golf management) program.  He looked into it, then transferred the next semester.

That seemed ideal, he’s been a golfer since he was 5 or 6 years old.  I worked at a golf course their whole childhood, they grew up with that course as their playground.  He played on the golf teams since middle school, they both had jobs at golf courses when they were in high school.

He’s not in school at this time, he wanted to play competitively with a break from school. This is a tough one for me, how do you support your kid’s dreams yet make sure you’re getting them started into a life where they can one day be self supportive?  Especially for when you’re not on this earth anymore?  Having a kid with a disability adds a new twist to it too, we had a guy working for the golf course from a PGM program who basically had the same job as me – my son can’t answer a phone.

Back to the implant though, he’s home to get it adjusted to use it again.  That’s a start, a few months ago he wanted another surgery to get it removed and I just cried the whole time he was saying that.  That surgery was hectic, the LAST thing I wanted him to do was to got through that again!!  I begged him to just keep it so that some day he would want to wear it again (did I say he’s stubborn?).  He came around, it was his choice to get it adjusted.

One of the side affects of the surgery is tinnitus, when he’s wearing the implant the tinnitus seems to subdue.  Another thing that helps him is tincture drops from medicinal MJ.  I discovered the tincture when I’d go with my mom’s best friend to pick it up when she was dying of cancer.  She would put it in her tea, it would help her appetite and help her sleep.  Before we got her a card she had eaten cookies and had no feeling in her legs!!  The drops are a lot milder than the edibles (I guess, I haven’t had either).

They seem to help his tinnitus without the stoney affect.  Being the good mom, after I picked him up from the airport we stopped by Berkeley to get him some drops.  One thing I’m not is an enabler, I wouldn’t be stopping by a liquor store for him if he needed a drink.  It’s a tough call, what’s the difference between something mild or say a Tylenol PM??  Now that I’ve had, it gives me vivid dreams as well as leaving me medicine like tired the next day.

Not that I’m recommending any of this, parenting is always a balance of stumbling through what the best thing could possibly be for your child hoping something will give them a lifetime of health & happiness – oh, and a well paying job!

The goal is to get him to qualify for the world deaf championships at this point.  He’s picking a new major to get back to school after he gives this a go.  Go Aggies!!

Snow Day!

Not really, I did mean to get up early to catch the sunrise on the top of Mt. Diablo, that just didn’t happen.  The alarm went off at 6:30a, I had to tell Alexa twice to turn it off before I woke up at 7:30a.  Another reason I’ll never be a great photographer, I can’t wake up to greet the day anymore.  For ten years I’d wake up at 4:30a for work then rowing, I never want to see a “4” and an “a” together ever again.

I’ll wait for the sunset, or maybe head out today some time and get some shots?  I’m sure my neighbors appreciate I slept in and didn’t wake them up with my drone at sunrise.

Otherwise, I’m just doing my own thing again today, still nursing my tailbone bruise/fracture.  This really took me down again, it’s been over a week now and not feeling any better.  I hate complaining about health stuff, it makes me feel 100 years old, it’s just that I was really hoping to get back on track with getting in shape.  That week was looking good with the swimming & skiing, then this.  I’ll walk a few miles to crawl to the fridge for icy/hot & heating pads.

Forget about bike riding, yoga, swimming…perhaps I should actually go to the Dr.??  IDK??  Last time I went was when my heart actually hurt after the smoke and they didn’t whip out the stethoscope, which seems to me to be Dr. 101??  Plus there’s nothing they can do about it besides tell me to do what I’m already doing.

On the “where to live” front, still up in the air.  I found the cutest place in Pacific Grove, a place I love to go.  One thing’s for sure after all this snow, glad I didn’t go for Tahoe!  I don’t know if I could handle being injured and not being able to dig myself out of a condo or dig my car out all week.  There’s hunkering down, then there’s hunkering down with no cable or internet for days…that would be the worst part!!  One storm a few years knocked it all out, my son was with me, we looked at each other and said, “We’re out of here!”  We drove back to Walnut Creek before the roads closed.

We looked at this awesome place in Pt. Richmond that had a dock in front of it.  For that we’d have to sell our house, which I’m just not ready to do yet.  Tick tock on my life choices and not doing anything about it.  Again, I’m the only one up for a change of scenery after living here for 27 years.  My son and his wife love it here, the only way they can afford to stay is if we keep the house.

As cool as the Pt. Richmond house was, it’s not a “destination” like Pacific Grove.  I would never say, “Hey, let’s go to Pt. Richmond for the weekend!”  That Pacific Grove house had a separate unit for guests or a little artist studio for myself (I know, I still consider myself somewhat of an artist).  I still have all these dreams, when in reality I’ll probably have to move back to Manhattan Beach and take care of my mom so she can stay home (there might be cats involved).

 

 

Camera Ready

The problem with getting older and being a half-ass photographer is that to keep up you have to upgrade your equipment every few years.  I upgraded a few months ago to a Sony a7ii with a 28-70mm lens.  It was a package deal from Mike’s camera last November, it’s replacing a Sony Nex5 I’ve been using for the past 5 or so years.  I bought both cameras from Mike’s, there are a lot of advantages to still buying from a camera store – one is the classes and ongoing support for the camera.

I bought a nice camera for my son once from Best Buy as a graduation present, the guy practically spit into the lens to clean it as we watched in horror.

Last night I went to a Sony seminar at Mike’s to learn a little more about the camera.  I’m very familiar with cameras, not above going to find out what new features I might be missing and a few tips.  One of them being that I’ve been cleaning the sensors wrong, I’ve been laying the camera down flat and blowing into it so the dust can just go right back in.  It’s little tips like that I go for.  I’ve taken many photography classes, it’s amazing how much I forget and how obsolete my college classes are.

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Darkroom class 1997??

My first camera was a Pentax K-1000 my parents gave me for my 16th birthday in 1978 (photos above are from Manhattan Beach, 1978).  Sadly, between my boys that camera has been lost 😦  I used that camera up until my youngest was crawling around in 1998, then I switched to my first digital camera that was about $1,000 with 500k of memory.  You had to anticipate the shot, once you held down the shutter it was almost a minute before the camera actually took the picture.  By that time my boys were on swim team,  I switched the slide shows to all digital for swim team and Junior League those years.  I still have pictures of every kid in Walnut Creek, now 25 year olds.  I remember someone saying they thought digital would never catch on, there’s always a naysayer.  I was all over it!

This only shows pics, the songs were copyrighted:

Then I got an ill-fated job with the Contra Costa Times as a contracted out photographer and bought a Minolta something or other.  Honestly, I didn’t do much research on it, I took the advice from a guy at our office who is really into cameras.  I had to cancel a job at 5am due to spending the night in the emergency room with my husband, who severed something in his knee the night before playing volleyball.  It was a 3 day shoot, luckily I was not the main photographer, but I had a babysitter lined up all weekend for it.  Not surprisingly, I never got a call back for work again.  I also quit Junior League, he was down for months with surgery and couldn’t drive.

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Quitting Junior League was interesting, not sure if they knew why I had to quit but not one person called to see if I needed help or if we were OK? I petitioned to become a sustainer, that was a no.  When I bought my Sony Nex5 I was in that class at Mike’s camera coincidentally with a woman who was a big sustainer, she recognized my name.  She thanked me that night on upgrading JL to all digital, gave me all the credit for making them cutting edge in technology at that time.  That was nice, especially because the end seemed so, “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.”

Then came the iPhone cameras which gave photography a whole new twist, making virtually everyone a photographer.  Somewhere in that time we got a Cannon Rebel digital, replacing a film Cannon my husband had.  When the cameras on the iPhones got decent, you have a camera with you at all times.  I have no problem whipping out my iPhone for pictures, it’s so convenient.  People who know nothing about photography starting getting awesome shots, those selfies look better than posed shots a lot of times.  With FB and Instagram photography blew up (good & bad, kind of killed writing & photography for a living in general).

Below is Golden Gate with my iPhone, Hawaii sunset w/ Sony Nex5 & looking out from Manhattan Beach Pier Marine lab with the new Sony:

I still like to have a nice camera though, and a drone for fun.  I was using the drones for work before we hired two 25 year olds to replace me.  Now I use it for fun, it’s a whole new world in photography and technology that’s fun for me.

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3D with images on the left to practice AutoDesk Recap 360, a few hundred images.

This one is with the drone, about 800 pictures I did years ago when drones still crashed & flew away.  The drone technology has advanced to just pressing the button, instead of crossing your fingers as your pre-flight routine.

Not sure if I’m losing my “eye” as  I age or if people are just so damn good at it now!  On my Instagram (@hellereng) I’ve had several known photographers follow me and I’m super flattered.

Glad there are still some actual camera stores around, many are gone.  Camera and book stores used to be my favorite places to go and browse around, I miss that.  Amazon is bringing the books stores back, after they made a clean sweep to make sure there are no Barnes & Noble competition (Which is fine by me, B&N wiped out small books stores first).  Time marches on, still trying to stay cutting edge if at all possible.

The Featured image is of Lou Silva & Rob Ryan from a volleyball tournament in Manhattan Beach when we were teens in 1978.  They have both passed on, can’t believe I got this shot.

Where to live??

Still nursing a bruised tailbone from my Tahoe trip, it’s such a bummer!!  Every time I feel good to go, something happens to disrupt my flow (or bum my high).  At least it wasn’t my back again, that takes me out for months.  My truck is pretty much the only car that’s comfortable at least, I went to dinner with some childhood friends then drove back home.

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A little overboard on the Photoshop??  Donner Lake

I’ve looked at houses in Tahoe before, thinking that wouldn’t be a bad place to retire?  My husband doesn’t share that dream, last time I went up to look at just condo’s I stopped short when he said he doesn’t envision himself up there.  It’s true, I’m the one who goes up all the time and I haven’t actually skied the past few years with all the life events that have been in the way.  Getting a place up there without being able to actually ski would be a real bummer!!  One of the times my back went was after skiing, cleaning the cabin, then driving home – Thank God I was home!!  I plugged something in, down I went for at least a week of not being able to move.

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No filters – Donner Lake

One thing I’m not is a good cook, there are no good restaurants up there either.  I went to El Toro Bravo in Truckee for the worst Mexican food ever, I needed a steak knife for my tortilla it was so stale.  How do you screw up a cheese enchilada?  I found out.

When I got back to my full house, with a dirty kitchen waiting for mom to come home and clean, I wanted to cry.  I’d like just once to leave a clean kitchen, go downstairs 10 min later and not find a knife on the counter with crumbs all over the place.  Just to re-cap, my son and his wife with their dog are living with us.

Manhattan Beach is not within financial reach, besides, the new MB is not my scene.

When I got home I zillowed places in Monterey, found a cute place & hopped in the car yesterday to check out open houses.  The first one was the one we liked the most.  It’s small, walking distance from everything.  It’s a historical house that has been updated, some of those houses have not been updated at all.  We checked out a really small house in Pacific Grove that was about the size of the boat, the agent recommended we go to another house we might like.  YIKES!!  It was a mish-mosh of bad additions, the tour ended when I opened a closet emitting a smell of what I think was a dead body in there for 50 years.  I ran out, pissed at the realtor that suggested we even go there.

The other houses we checked out were very similar to the houses of MB past, little beach houses on small lots that were probably the same builder?  Most of those houses in MB are gone, torn down for some gross display of wealth.  There was always money in MB, the difference now is that people used to actually own their houses.  The only difference between Pacific Grove and MB is warm water, the water up here is freezing!!  Still, not cheap anywhere in CA regardless.

Walnut Creek was perfect to raise my boys, have a business, etc..  What I don’t want to do is what my IL’s did, move to a remote place that’s hard to get to.  They retired to Ojai, not close to any major hospital, airport or walking distance from anything.  Even in MB, the specialists are all in downtown LA which isn’t an easy drive for my mom.  It’s at least close to LAX.  In WC I can walk to Kaiser if I need to, that’s a big bonus.

Who knows??  I’ve been gone most of January, whenever I go through a place I wonder if I could live there?  Besides college, I’ve only lived in suburbia, it would be fun to switch things up a bit since I’m not tied to a school district, school schedule or work schedule.  We were joking I could work at that Pacific Grove golf course for Coursco again.  I worked at the golf course here for 7 years, I’m sure they’d recommend me.  Or I could just write in that cool coffee shop all day after paddle boarding…