Too much road time

It finally caught up with me, down for the count.  It could actually be allergies and exhaustion from the super bloom too??  It’s so beautiful out, but with the allergy season that’s going to be huge I’m afraid to go outside!

So what have I been up to since I haven’t been able to blog?  A whole lot actually.  I did head out to Bisbee, AZ for my cousins 84th birthday, so glad I did.  This is my mom’s 1st cousin, last surviving of his siblings and always there for me as a kid.  Before his wife passed away I thought she sent me Christmas cards, it turns out it was always him.  When my kids were little (Frank was a baby) I went out for the 4th of July.  I set it all up perfectly, got a mini-van for a rental car and was meeting my mom at Tucson airport.

It started off horribly from the Oakland airport…my husband was running late, so late that he didn’t have time to park and help me with all the strollers, car seats, etc. or I’d miss our flight.  He dropped me off at the curb and I ran to make the flight.  When we got to Tucson, my mom informed me that she was going to save me a few dollars and cancelled my rental car, that a cousin was coming through to give us a ride.  What she didn’t mention was that we were leaving on different days, she had a ride back and I did not.  It’s about 100 miles from Tucson to Bisbee, she didn’t tell me until the 4th of July.

I spent the day trying to figure out how to get back to the airport, calling a Sierra Vista rental car place to see how much a drop off fee would be (costing me more than the original mini-van).  My mom asked my uncle to drive me back in his truck, which at that time was a 2 seater, which meant my kids would be buckled up in the front and I would be riding in the truck bed with the dogs.  She said, “Problem solved.”

My cousin Fred overheard the whole thing, there might have actually been tears involved on my part?  He offered to give me a ride in a comfortable car.  Not only did he and his wife – who never went anywhere – give me a ride, they stayed with me the whole time and waited for me to board the plane.  It was before 9/11, it must have been ’96 when Frank was just a few months old.

He’s saved the day more than once recently, we drove through last year on the way to New Mexico and picked him up for breakfast.  I left the dog in his yard, when we got back the dog was gone.  Before we left for breakfast, he and my uncle were programming his new cell phone, not going to lie, they were driving me nuts.  It took 20 minutes calling each other, making sure each number worked.  As I drove around looking for the dog for an hour, Fred calls us and says the dog came to his back door.  That 20 minutes of cell phone programming paid off.   I just cried and gave him a big hug, relief over the dog plus wondering if I’d ever see him again?

It’s been a rough year for him, very touch & go all year.  When I got the invite, my mom let them know we couldn’t go because she couldn’t go.  Her travel days might be numbered, especially on airplanes.  The more I thought about it, the more I decided to just go on my own and see him again.  Every time I go to Bisbee I wonder if it might be my last time too?  Always bittersweet.

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It poured during the party, that was OK though because the next day was too hot.  We spent day 2 all day at Warren ballpark watching the old time baseball tournament with original rules.  Someone told me the town of Warren was shaped like a ballpark, that never occurred to me?  It’s one of the first U.S. ballparks, a fun day with my cousins.   A nice treat was the rental car company didn’t have my normal KIA or Hyundai available, so they gave me a Mustang convertible…fun!!

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I’ve been gone almost 2 months now, getting my 6 mos check in for flying in there somewhere.  I just took the train back from LA up the coast, using my Amtrak voucher for the disaster delay last time.  It was beautiful, I definitely have worn myself out though.  Sunday I collapsed and had to cancel everything just to stay in bed at my mom’s.  She kept saying how horrible she felt, I just could barely move.  We propped me up like “Weekend @ Bernies” to get me on the train where I just stared out the window for way too long.  It was cool, don’t think I’ll do it again though.

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No trips planned for a little while until I feel better, slowly moving through the week.

Cat Lady

April is pretty packed, Arizona this weekend then back to Manhattan Beach the next.  But first, I write…

There’s a house in Bend, Oregon that is within reach and is absolutely beautiful.  Whenever I go through a town I like, I obsessively Zillow it to death to see if it’s feasible.  Bend seemed great, until I looked at ways to get there.  The only way is to drive, flights are $800 round trip with 2 stops making it an 8 hour trip.  That really puts a damper on getting anywhere quickly or anyone ever coming to see me.  It was a nice thought while it lasted.

My husband keeps saying I should go back to Manhattan Beach, especially because of my mom needing me soon.  Being a full time caregiver doesn’t thrill me, the time is coming pretty soon though.  This weekend is her 1st cousin’s 84th birthday, he’s been touch & go for the last year at least.  He gave me a big hug last time I saw him and said, “I will see you again.”  Yes he will, for his birthday after a year of being in & out of hospitals.  Death doesn’t come at a specific time, it could be 5 min. or 5 years, you just don’t know?  That’s the case with my mom, am I signing up for 5 years or 15?  Some of my friends parents are well into their 90’s.  Our former neighbors have both sets of parents living, all in their mid-late 90’s.  My mom does great still, the vultures are circling though and she needs help.

I put up a picture on Instagram of a embroidery design I made then had digitized, an old friend of mine commented then said he just moved to MB!  Lengthy story, we met in our late teens through my college BF.  My college BF went to my HS, his dad was a teacher there, he was actually from West LA and would commute with his dad.  We’re not in touch, I always stayed in touch with his best friend who was from 90210.  Not in touch more than decade check ins, still it was always good to catch up.  I was so excited when he said that he lived there now!  PM’d my cell, told him we’d be down in a few weeks…crickets.  Txt’d my BIL we’d be down for my H bday, the same.  Hard to make dinner reservations when no one gets back to you??

Being a woman can be such a curse.  I go right back to being 19 yrs old when I get that kind of news and almost 40 years of life has moved on since then.  Do I want to move back to a town where I have childhood/teenage memories and am coming back as a 56 year old to take care of my mom (maybe get a few cats??).  Ugh.  Last time I went to the beach I got about 10 points of volleyball in before I had to call for a sub, everyone else else still looks smok’in hot in a bikini at my age.  I recognize it’s LA and there’s probably some surgery (& eating disorders) involved, there’s just not a chance in hell I’m playing v-ball in a bikini ever again.

On that thought, I’m going for a baby shower of a pro volleyball player and that part makes me smile.  When I could play without a sub, her mom & I would play at the pier and put our kids in cribs on the beach.  Our boys played for Golden West and were roommates there.  We raised the kids as cousins practically, so this is really exciting!!

There’s some relief in being older that I’m not expected to partake in the bikini contest anymore.  I’ve already missed a lot, I like the idea of being there and helping my friend become grandma then watching the baby on the beach while they play vball, like I did with the soon to be mommy.  Maybe it’s all good and I can go back as an adult and not a teenager?  One thing’s for sure, no more HS alumni events.  Our last one we were the only ones not announced at the football game, then cropped out of the group selfie.  Whatever 🙂

Waffling on my route…

It looks like rain in the forecast the entire drive up to Seattle, with a need for at least carrying chains throughout a few sections.  These storms have been relentless!  One thing’s for sure, the coast route is a no-go, I’ll never make it.  My truck will make it through the worst of it all, at the expense of being exhausted (or useless) by the time I get up there.

I have a voucher for Amtrak that I was considering until that train got stuck near Eugene for 3 days, so that’s out.  Looks like I might just have to book a flight?  Which eliminates a good portion of my adventure I’ve been looking forward to.

Another thing just came up too, another one of my mom’s friends passed away and the funeral is here in Marin.  Her son just got ahold of me, we were good friends and I just adored his mom.  Our mom’s were late 50’s Stewardesses together and roommates, my mom was the only person in her wedding party as maid of honor.  Leave it to my mom to wear a red dress, yes, that’s how she rolls.  The son and I used to joke that we suffered from the fact our parents will always be hotter than us.

That funeral is 2 days before I need to be in Seattle for my adopted grandma shift, I’m considering having my mom come up here first so I can take her.  She doesn’t travel well anymore, and I can’t emphasis enough the stress right before I go when I was looking forward to this trip!  To be replaced with yet another funeral, ugh.  Still, I hate to miss it or have my mom miss it.

What worries me most is when I called my mom to tell her, she had no idea who I was talking about?  She seemed almost happy, so a few minutes into the conversation I said, “Do you know what I just said?” She said yes, that someone she didn’t know had just died.   I said, “Mom, it’s L, remember you were roommates and you were in her wedding?”  She said, “Oh yes, but that’s not her name.”  I said, “It’s L & D, remember?”  She said again she remembered but the names were wrong.  I hung up and called my brother, some of her memory came back when he was talking to her.

When I talked to her again she said I must have woken her up from a nap while she was still half asleep.  I’m aware that the time is near for her, maybe not death but the end of her mind.  I’m trying to get in as much as I can before I’m the caregiver, a role I never was meant for but I seem to be regardless by sheer fact I’m a woman.  The last time she spoke to her friend L, L had no memory of my mom either.  That was years ago 😦

I can’t think of any of my peers who have both parents alive still?  Both of my parents are still alive, they’ve been divorced forever.  One of these days I’ll write about my dad, for now I’ll just say that I can empathize with Megan Markle & I can’t say it gets better.  My parents sure were a good looking couple, they looked like movie stars when I was little.  I had to forge my own road and go the tomboy route to survive…kidding.  I certainly missed basic training in the women department!

I know, I was hoping for a blog full of pretty pictures of my I-5 journey too.  Sorry about that, life & the weather are not cooperating with me.  As hard as it was, I was there non-stop for my mom’s friend F when she was dying and learned so much about that – I wouldn’t have missed it.  I’m so looking forward to a birth!  The older I get, the more I see it’s not that different.  My mom keeps saying, “It’s called life.”

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.

 

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.

So far, so good 2019

Despite being rainy and cold everywhere I’ve been and being publicly called out on FB as looking to move into a trailer.  I covered a lot of ground this past few weeks, now I just need to get back into shape which was not even on my NYR list of things to do.

I have a Garmin watch with a HRM on it to guide me.  Over the summer, swimming laps and riding my bike everywhere, I was the Vo2 of a 34 year old.  I felt really good about that, bragging rights actually to anyone who still listens to me.  In New Mexico I was able (forced) to walk the dog a few miles, getting my HR up to an acceptable range.  Last checked, 36 years old.

To my horror, when I got back home I hopped on the scale to see 5 lbs and the Vo2 of a 40 yr old – that train ride & Wetzel Pretzel lunch added 4 yrs & 5 lbs!!  I weigh more than I’ve ever weighed my whole life!!

With the smoke, getting sick, then weather I haven’t done much.  Those pounds went on when I turned 50 and nothing I do can get them off!  I’ve just been accepting it, glad for the bikini bod I had up until that 50 mark.

Back to the gym I go…even though I kinda hate gyms, or the gym “scene.”  Nothing like fighting your way for a spot in yoga class where you’re supposed to go to be calm & relaxed.  At 5’9″, I’m the tall dork that can’t see without my glasses in the back of the class.  I’m also not flexible, or spiritual, so I can’t do half the poses.

I remember being in Bali in a gorgeous outdoor studio overlooking the ocean with my son.  The rest of the class were hot, 20 yr old Australian surfer boys with a few perfect 20 yr old girls to match.  I was old lady in the back of the class, which was fine because I was actually in shape.  She said we were going to do a head stand, I said I was out for that one.  She went into a speech on how some people won’t try it because it’s that time of the month (she probably said some spiritual thing about menses?) and other women problems I might be having that would prevent me from even trying.  I bit my tongue, I wanted to say, “How about I can’t do a headstand?”  Geez.

You never really appreciate that you were in shape until you’re out of shape.  Do you have to get out of your warm bed first and stop writing?  Oh…I guess so 🙂