Category: Comments about Life, the Environment and more

Waves travel in groups (something I’d like to try as opposed to alone with the dogs.) Waves create a bit of deception. We can sit in a trance like bliss watching them pound the shore—it seems that sea is lapping at our feet, clamoring for attention, shouting at the land to dissolve so it can explore further and further the mysteries of dry land. What is really going on is energy. Depth, shape and slope determine how that energy falls onto the shore. Sets of waves pile together pushing steeper and higher until they topple as a breaker . . . the lovely surf. Influenced by currents, sea temperature, wind speed and direction, gravity, the rotation of the earth, water pressure, fresh water melting and running to the sea . . . it’s complex and dramatic.

Wikipedia says the Pacific Ocean covers 165.25 million square kilometers or 63.8 million square miles of the Earth’s surface.

Here in the Pacific the colder deeper water is driven towards the surface, in upwelling, bringing nutrients such as nitrate, phosphates and silicic acid for phytoplankton mixing with carbon dioxide and light, attracting life in abundance. I searched for a video on upwelling but did not find what I wanted, nevertheless here’s an intro

Everyone should understand these basic earth processes, how the ocean works, the atmosphere, and so forth. Evidence of change is constant and we cannot effectively prepare to sustain ourselves without observation, knowledge and critical inquiry.

Standing, sitting or driving through the sunny, foggy, rainy coastal pacific is an experience of massive process displaying such stunning beauty its hard to believe we are gifted the perception to see this.

Driving Across Oregon to the Sea

Driving Across Oregon to the Sea

The Oregon Coast

Looking inward at Siuslaw River in Florence Oregon

Okay…. here goes my usual rant with WordPress…. trouble with photos being clipped and WP not responding to edits, alas! Will make a second post for a slideshow….. up next….

I have in my possession two of the saddest letters. . . even re-reading them, they gripe my heart. They are written by my Cousin Byron Raphael; the one who looked after Elvis in his early years in the mid ’50’s, to my Aunt Hermione, his mother. In the letters he is 55 telling of hardships: I hate the mindless opening of x number of cartons and the grind of cleaning up after somebody who’s had one too many. But, let’s face it, I have no skills or craft and this is the best I’m going to get. . . he speaks of his menial job where he is berated although his boss knows of his illness and how his wife works a menial job where she is propositioned by her boss. He says: I always had my dreams, my plan, my hopes and my tomorrows. But those are things I can only read about in books now. It’s the time in one’s life when you accept that your deepest dreams are gone. That, I find is the true death because it’s the time one stops living and stops feeling so the pain is stilled. I feel like a man standing high on a cliff overlooking his life and feeling forgotten but not yet gone. He ends that letter oddly by telling him his mother, my aunt to give a greeting to my father and his family but not to share his condition.

The other letter is worse:. . .Please believe me that I am not afraid of being ill and only the heavy pain gives me anxious feelings. . . . he tells how his Buick brunt out, and selling the last of his stocks at a loss. His wild life demolished, his career gone, his health is terrible and he can find no income other than as a bag boy or a dishwasher, yet his wife stays close working at a coffee shop and traveling by bus. He wishes better for her. I hate myself when I see Cherie come home from a job that she’s so much better than. I don’t have the guts to walk in front of a speeding car but I have stopped taking medications and I’m hoping that if something happens I don’t linger and make it worse for everyone. Page two of this letter is not in my possession; most of my aunt’s personal papers were strangely absent from her home after her death. Someone simply missed these two pages.

Byron is gone. Before his death he wrote the expose that many did not like about Elvis, I know it brought him money. I want to honor him. I never knew him well; he and I seem to have been similar. He  had a highly sensitive system; unable to handle medications, inflicted by terrors and bad reactions to drugs and the environment at a time when such sensitivity was not accepted. He suffered bad luck, bad choices, poor decisions, bad advice…. I do not know. When I read his letters I do know that I have not been wrong to not cave to my own illnesses nor loss of my income and career. He reminds me that blind acceptance is hitting the dark wall of the maze. One needs to hold to dreams and to take chances. It’s better to fall in the midst of reaching for what you want, like Forrest who at last had his land, than to become mired in the grind for the ordinary. No one should be bereft of innate joy. And no one of us should be unable to carry the light to others, no one should turn aside for we are all one people, one experience in a zillion voices.  Our strengths are different, our weakness effects us in ways we may not share. He says, life holds nothing for me now except Cherie and she must not spend any more of her best years with someone like me. My Dear Cousin in that you are wrong. ….

My next post will be full of photos I took at a wonderful friend’s home in Placerville.
Kudos to true friendship and enough money to make life work.

The Memorial for Forrest Lewis was the largest gathering Three Springs has hosted. I heard some 200 people in attendance. Tears, laughter, rituals, food, memories, Forrest songs and stories carpeted the community; there was even a skit and a telling of Forrest jokes. Everytime I turned I swore I saw my friend and was about to tap him on the shoulder, give him a hug, tell him how much I missed him and what did he think of this big party in his honor? I sat in the spot that I’d known him to occupy, waited till the end when the kitchen was empty just as he would have done to snack on the plethora of potluck dishes. I met more of his friends that day than I have ever known; shared with his family and faces I’d not seen in an eon. I told my story and was gifted with hugs. They filled me where I was hungry, with questions, with comments, “oh that’s what Forrest was like before I met him, before he came here, before his transplant,” they told me their stories, they gave me their love. I connected with his world, the people he loved; our loss blended into celebration of how he’d come and gone.

The North Fork (and surrounding) community is strong, living among them would be an experience yet I couldn’t help consider talks with Forrest, his disappointments and joys and compare them to the remembrances of the day. I tried on his eyes, his feet wandering, gazing at the land. What Forrest would think, what he would say? I think I know.

I left late, retrieving Olympia and Mason, busy rummaging among the snacks, yanking a hundred stickers and burrs from Olympia’s coat, pulled on the LT headlights which were dim. I was moving, and pulled again, now the road ahead was inky. A car passed and I darted behind it pulling and twisting the headlight knob recklessly. A strange sensation swept me. I chased the only other car on the road, holding to its ray of light. I knew it was foolish, like a Disneyland ride, the Mad Hatter or some evil ghost the kind that I’d been afraid of as a child. Afraid of the dark. Felt like Forrest was sitting on my shoulder, playing one of his games, saying, go ahead now; you go and keep up with him. There was wind coming from the wing window but I hadn’t remembered I opened it as I groped in the dark flipping switches and driving faster than I had any right to hearing the sound of loose gravel past curves and shadowy trees. When my GPS beeped the turn-off for Matt’s house and I was alone in empty darkness checking my eyesight for the rough dirt road I couldn’t see, I pulled once more just for the heck of it, wondering if I could use my flashlight strapped to the front bumper to find the way, and wolla the lights popped on, the brakes responded with a musical groan.

Something told me it was a right of passage, a parting gift from my dear friend, a heralding of all friends; I shouldn’t forget that the road holds surprises, that an ending is fantasy given the point of observation from which we view time, that fear of the unknowing (darkness) may be nothing at all, that we are closer now with space dissolved, with the mortal parts of us in the past.

…………………………… Word Press Trouble: Trouble seems to be in the new update for Firefox not loading the javascript windows . . .anyone know how to fix this???? Am using a differnt browser temporarly but this one is acting weird very hard to use… need a fix for Firefox

On The Porch at Matt’s house in North Fork, CA

A sweet cat, a friendly goat, chickens. . .lots to explore. Was very very hot.

My best friend died the day before yesterday. He was 47 years old and had a liver transplant having been diagnosed with a rare disease Primary sclerosing cholangitis sometime around 1994-5. Forgive me if I don’t remember the exact date; he and I were classmates at the University of California in Santa Barbara studying geography at one of the best geography campus in the country. We took all the earth system science classes before climate change hit the news ways. Forrest was brilliant, acing the complicated interweaving of our planet’s physical systems. His shortcoming was computers, but everything else melded together in perfect symmetry—he’d explain things to me, we studied together. Turned out he had a crush on me. We’d lope across campus at a quick pace to cover the distance between classes. It was there, right at the bike crossing when he told me about the diagnosis: PSC, but he made me say the whole name.

I got hit by a bicycle and bruised my arm and nicked my ankle.

Forrest was hit by something much worse.

The treatment for PSC is liver transplant.

Years passed with the diagnoses locking down. Lots of drugs and hospitals all of which Forrest hated. He sickened turned yellow, actually orange, bloated, weak, was often in pain, could barely eat, yet he’d smile, he’d laugh, he’d get out the telescope to study the sky. He was a geographer to the core. He never missed listening to Car Talk or watching an episode of Jeopardy. He had a child that loved dinosaurs. He moved to North Fork to be near his son and lived his life. He got sicker, and sicker and sicker. The medical social system was cruel. He had to fight for everything and Forrest is not a fighter, he was made of love and curiosity. They make you wait when you need a liver transplant until you’re almost dead before your turn is approved for the surgery. Forrest almost died on the table, we didn’t think he’d survive but he did.

He did!!! We were overjoyed! But recovery was difficult, Forrest needed frequent aftercare treatment, he needed a lot of pills….pills he didn’t want to take. He developed severe depression.  In a man who was inherently cheerful and full of life this was a shock. It was bio-chemical but it changed Forrest. They treated the depression and it helped but he wasn’t the same, he started to worry and fret about things. He started to over-do, he was everyone’s fix it guy, especially if it was mechanical. His collection of cars were like living creatures to him–each with their own soul, their complicated history that he cherished.

He finally found love, he was missing this for a very long time…romantic love.

A few years ago I was ready to purchase the 6 acres that Forrest lived on in North Fork. We decided to share the place. I wanted land and a home, Forrest wanted to remain where he was in an aging double wide on a gorgeous parcel. He’d help me build a house and he’d pay me rent. I made the seller / landlady a good offer, she laughed at me, demanding an inflated price which she never got (her final sale years later was lower than my offer.)  Lots of bad things happened, she drove Forrest off his home, she showed us how evil lurks waiting for expression, her devilment was the death of her husband, it unleashed a raging greed. Forrest had to leave and that drove him nearly crazy, he went to live with his girlfriend but was forced to give away too many of his precious cars and other vehicles and equipment. Honestly the place was a mess; Forrest had lost his neat gene, it  dissolved with toxic accumulation of ongoing medications and treatments. The place could have been cleaned up with some help. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do everything yourself, on your own.

Forrest and me looking at property for me to buy

Then finally things started to really improve, Forrest was able to buy a plot of land with the help of his folks. Forrest could not work a traditional money earning job, nor pursue a vocation, nor utilize his brilliant mind because of the enormous cost of medical treatments…it was necessary that he remain on funded aide to pay those bills. He dreamed of doing his masters, maybe more but it didn’t happen. Getting the land was an anxiety ridden tortuous process but he preserved. The land was inexpensive as it needed extensive clean up. He toiled, he labored, he joined work parties and shared, he did everything for others in the hopes they’d do a little for him. He’s the collective, cooperative, potluck, home-grown local music and drum circle bonfires with friends type. Honest, sincere, he meditates in silence; yes, sometimes moody and sensitive. He’s a go-getter…. oh I keep forgetting to say “was” Forrest will always be alive to me.

Forrest really hears a person when they speak, he asks questions rather than dictating what another thinks, he weighs things before giving an idea and his ideas tend to be brilliant or at least in line with a persons true self. There is laughter and goodness. He pays attention and uses his brain, his shortcomings revolve on his internal processes. I’ve seen him get bogged down working himself into an endless loop with a problem that requires a solution he doesn’t like.

So once he obtained his property something wonderful happened. Forrest became Forrest again, there was ground under his feet. Something to give him pride and confidence. This happened recently; he showed me how he cleaned up the parcels…two of them together making a 5 acre spread right in the center of California in North Fork. He had everything to live for, things were smoothing out with his girl friend, the future was looking bright. The last conversation he and I will ever have, he told me that I too needed to get property, it made all the difference, it gave him happiness and he was sure it was what I needed too. Working on your own place, building what you want, what you need.

Not yesterday, but the day before he planted roses on his land, he worked hard in the sun. It’s hot in North Fork this time of year; there was a lot of hard labor to be done. He came home to take a nap, woke around 8 o’clock feeling dizzy, then he lost consciousness. His girlfriend performed CPR heroically until the medics arrived; she was there with him, she said it was a peaceful death.

There are scores of us in shock, maybe hundreds, Forrest was well loved.

He got to see the LT, he liked it. I expected him to be around to continue to read my blog, to continue to share his rants, his joys, his discoveries, to continue to listen when I felt lost, to be the one who knows all about me and who understands. His girlfriend’s home is crowded, her family have gathered ’round, friends are pouring in support. I am alone. I miss Forrest and it’s only the beginning.

Only one more thing, Forrest and I had a falling out. there was a long time when we didn’t talk every week or every other week.  It only ended recently, I was sad about it, but now I know it was practice, it gave me practice for the long haul ahead.

Yes these walls are made of Straw Bale!

In his youth

He kept that look all his life. . . it would turn into a smile 🙂

I did manage to get my haircut. It was a strange expensive $45 experience. Five dollars off because she didn’t wash it or use any product; she straightened it with a hot iron then sniped off the ends. She didn’t cut off nearly as much as I’d hoped but now that it’s straight and silky it reminds me of Jamie Sommers.

I’d picked the name Jamie when I was 12. Jamie was a boy’s name and I knew it except there was a girl on my street who changed her name to Stormy…her name had been Jamie! She was the only person I knew with that name and I was disgusted with my birth name. There were at least 3 girls with the same name in my homeroom and more in my grade at school; at home my name had been shorted to a screeching…IT with a hard dragged out T at the end, you see I was a Janet. These days I like the name Janet, Janet Beth but I’m not her anymore. No, I’m a rebellious Jamie. Who changes their name at 12? It’s been a fight with years of struggle to get my new name to stick. I finally had to “officially” change it in my late 30s due to tightened security with the feds and banks not going for “two” first names at all.

I liked having an ambiguous name, when I was growing up mostly only boys were permitted the fun stuff. I wanted to be a boy but still be a girl, that’s why I traded skirts and garters for boy’s button down the front 501 Levi’s. I wanted the freedom and approval to be the one on the white horse, the hero, the one do to the saving….I had no interest in being the damsel in distress, Cinderella or Little Red Hiding Hood; no I wanted to be Mighty Mouse, the Lone Ranger or Bat Man! But I couldn’t even be Bullwinkle. So being “Jamie” suited me, no more just one more in a crowd, I was unique, a girl named Jamie; different things were expected of me. People looked at me weird and lectured me that I shouldn’t be going around with a boys name…I liked it. Everything was fine until the Bionic Woman!

She stole my name! As it says in the post:

The name “Jaime(and I spelled it that way until I got tired of being called Hi-Me) was predominantly a male name (a derivative of “James”) before the television series began. It is probably not a coincidence that in 1976 the name Jaime became one of the 100 most popular names of the year in every one of the 50 US states. The female name Jamie (a variant spelling) also gained enormous popularity at the same time.


Oh, how I’d loved my friends saying to me, “Let’s go James, Take me home James,” Then all of a sudden I was a superstar. I was supposed to be larger than life. There were different expectations; I was supposed to be able to do anything now!!!! Oh Bionic Woman…what did I ever do to make you steal my name! Did I run into your creator down at Hollywood and Vine or maybe on Melrose at the Bodhi Tree, or in North Hollywood running around the streets and backlots of the studios and you thought, wow what a great name for a girl, I think I’ll steal that for my new show! You thief spoiled my life! See it on TV and everyone has to do it, now there are a million females named Jamie. So I have to compete, I don’t like it. Since the late 80s I’ve wanted to change my name again. How do I know it’s me if there are so many others that come running when the name is called? How do I know it’s me when people have images of a blond dynamo who can do everything just a little better and faster and smarter than I can!

So, dear bionic woman  it’s time you acknowledged where you got your name. Here I am trying to do a million things at once and do them all perfectly. I am the original Jamie, except for Stormy who changed her name and her name hadn’t originally been Jamie anyway . . . it’s not Jamie Sommers and her dog Maximillian . . . it’s Jamie Rosenthal and her once upon time Gigi and Sambo the poodles, then Bisschen the boxer, and my beloved PWD Hero along with Taiko the lab/chow and now Mason and Olympia!

Sunday… I’m not much of a public camp ground person although tonight I’m reclining on my bed with the tailgate open, view of watered meadow circled by my “power and water” section of South Beach State Park, Newport Oregon; Bruce Goldfish’s Lullaby Waltz playing from my computer on the iHome speakers; powered by 30 Amps,writing on my laptop. Kids are playing, motors are at work, blowing up airbeds, bicycle tires, Motorhomes, 5th Wheels and Trailers are backing into place, dogs barking, diner being prepared here and there. So far no direct neighbors but the Park is full so they will come. There is the taint of smoke but it’s light and one camper has a fire that smells sweet. A neighbor showed up a VW campervan with an industrious couple–nice. Again, I asked for a calm private site and was so rewarded.

Stopped at the Newport Marine Science Center and learned about Hypoxia… dead zones in the ocean…my earth system sciences climate studies professor at UCSB had controversial ideas in the late ‘90s. He claimed that methane hydrates, methane overturning in the ocean… rising to the surface caused climate catastrophe, also he explained to us how the increase of fresh water into the salinity of the sea by global warming, melting polar, melting glacier, increasing rain. . .  flooding, hotter . . .more evapotransformation… more draught, desertification, unstable weather patterns, unpredictable weather, more extreme weather (hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, unstable shifting plates, the core and mantle wobbling the planet, lifeforms in chaos…) ( Okay can’t explain the theory and science of the planet in a few sentences–sorry)…. It’s a system and it’s acting in accordance with natural principles of physics but we don’t yet comprehend it. We stab at understanding and point and blame each other, the other country, politics, business, greed, overdevelopment, superstition, the oracle of the unknown, want and need but we don’t understand…like these campers don’t understand that they are not “treading lightly,” they are not in harmony but never mind–they are here outdoors moving their bodies and teaching their children; and that is good. Hey will somebody make me dinner!!! I was going to go into town to pick up a vegan pizza but if luck holds, peace here will keep me from having to navigate in the dark. ……  This Hypoxia (and I’m only guessing) tells me that balance of microchemicals is preventing the oxygen from developing….  I didn’t read the entire exhibit—it’s under study in the university. I wish I was there. I want to know, I want to discover the answers. I would be so happy in my cluttered office, with my brain firing spit and a bunch of students and maybe a grant to peel off another flake of our ignorance. Oh my gentle sea, what is going on? Will you tell us (so we can do something about it) or will you show us (so we will not be able to do more than cry)?

I want to hold the sea in my hands and kiss it and make it feel better