My Neato- Rosey

Yep i got a robot to do my vacuuming. Now little Neato here isn’t the wise cracking, tell it like it is robot form the Jetsons, but we have been though a lot this little machine and me. It all started when we bought a house. Before in a one bedroom apartment with wood floors it was easy enough to sweep up the dog hair and the like. The new house with carpet was another story. Our dog is a shedding machine. Not to mention all the dirt we track in. So vacuum every other day or so to keep it up. Now here is where the “oh come on vacuuming isn’t that hard” comments come in. Yes you are right, it’s not that hard; so is doing your dishes by hand. You get my point.

What i love about a vacuuming robot? I can do other things. The whole point of technology is to make our lives easier so we can spend time thinking about other ways to make life happier. Its  for the mom and dad with wild kids, and dogs, that rather go for a hike on Saturday than clean the house. The grandma that just can’t drag the vacuum out anymore, and rather go bird watching with the grand kids. Or the young couple in Oregon that likes the feeling of a clean house with minimum effort. Because lets face it we are out hiking too and one day we will be that family that rather hike than clean the house.

What is more our Neato helps us pick up more. The little robot still needs a clear path to clean up properly. Picking up the dog toys, and making sure other clutter up or put away. They say that is the true key to keeping a clean house is put away the clutter. I had one job as a outdoor youth institutor and we would always be cleaning up “scrappy junk” the kids left behind. That name stuck with me; scrappy junk. That’s what I now pick up almost everyday. Before without a reason to pick it up it would just sit there.

Now Neato is wonderful but we have had some horror stories. Poopocalypse and the ant invasion. First was the ant invasion. The vacuum was scheduled for every other day. Normally I would empty out the dirt and dust when I got home. Well one day I put it off for the weekend since it was summer and life was busy. When I came home for lunch I saw Neato staring the vacuum the living room. I stopped it and pulled out the bin. What I was not prepared to see was an ant colony in all it’s ant glory riding around on my vacuum! They must have been attracted to some food it sucked up. Took 2 weeks to clean the whole thing out and make sure every ant was gone.

Poopocalypse happened only a month after that. Bodie can be quite the pain when his scheduled is messed up. Pooping in the house seems to be his favorite. Yep you guessed it. Luckily for us I guess, it wasn’t fresh when Neato ran over it. That only took 4 days to clean up. Since then we turned off the scheduling and run it was we are home or started just as we leave the house. This little robot is a trooper and would totally recommend it. Just remember this is not Rosey from the Jetsons, it will get stuck for no reason, and sometime something will get stuck and it won’t vacuum a thing. Just remember we could still be living in caves. Be grateful we have technology.

 

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The Real California; Its not always sunny

Today is the first day of a long cold Pacific Northwest fall and winter. The day never feels like it goes past 9am. Water seems to fall gently from the sky for 6 months straight. Emerald patches of moss cover the steeps and sidewalks. When the rain turns into mist, a walk through the woods gives you a chance to enjoy the fall colors.

Growing up is southern California we knew it was fall when the winds changed and the hot Santa Ana winds would whip up wildfires across the state. You would get this sense of a post-apocalyptic world creeping into our quite lives. We would be on high alert at all times. This is also about the time we question our preparedness in case of an emergency. I remember making a mental list of what I would grab if we had to evacuate. Fire management was always a hot topic at the state park family fish fry. Retied park rangers and lifeguards would recant the stories of wildfires of past seasons. Evacuating campers and digging fire breaks as the flames started to lick their boots.  Sunsets during a big fire are eerie and beautiful. You feel bad for enjoying it. Finally when you think the state will never stop burning, the wind changes. Your first cold calm day of winter has arrived! This is only a short-lived calm. Now comes the winter storms, which leads to the winter landslides and flooding.

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Alameda County Firefighter cools down hot spots in front of a residence leveled by Loma fire near Morgan Hill, Calif Noah Berger/ AP

After Record Heat, California Fires Burn Into The Fall : The Two-Way : NPR

Cooking is in the blood

Food has always been a story of my family.  On one side I am from a big Irish family. St Patrick’s Day was a day to visit your grandparents, eat, and hear stories of pucas and fairies. My grandma Hammer was a woman that could cook anything you wanted. It would taste just like it came from a restaurant. I spent hours watching her buzz around her kitchen like a queen bee. Even the Kraft mac and cheese tasted better when she made it. . The best story she had was how she leaned to make tacos and burritos. My grandpa had a job picking lima beans. Grandma would pack his lunch every day. It would be some fried chicken or meatloaf. How she found out that my grandpa was switching lunches I don’t know, but she tacked down the wife of the man he was switching with. This poor lady, seeing my grandma ripping up the street towards her door. Well as the legend goes my grandma asked the woman what she was packing in her husband’s lunch that was so delicious, and would she teach her how to make it. In payment for this information my grandma would teach her how to make fried chicken and meatloaf. The woman agreed, and that is how my grandma learned to make tacos and burritos.

Grandpa also had his specialties; spam n’ eggs, BLT, chocolate malts, fried bologna. He was born in a log cabin, hopped trains looking for work until he met my grandma’s brother *Dale, and fell in love with his sister.( * He said “my sister is a great ice skater want to join us” … and the rest is history.) The day he joined the Marines was December 8th, 1941. A few weeks shy of his 18th birthday. He was deployed out of the new CA Marine base, Camp Pendleton. Located next to a small beach town call San Clemente. Later this would be where they would come back and buy a beach house. My grandparents spent the rest of their life sitting on the porch watching the pelicans fly by, and feeding everyone that walked through the door.

*Edited – Got the real scoop from my Aunt Mary 🙂

Photography and the Process

Photography has and always be a big part of my life and history. I love the process of it. From loading the film to exposing. Then developing and printing it myself. Printing in the darkroom is where you see the magic. Set the timer. Go! The ghostly image of the negative appears, then disappears. When the light goes off you hope that you’ve captured the ghosts on the paper. Walking over to the 3 or 4 trays you have prepared, you run over all the times and measurements. Your battle plan is set. Gently rolling the developer over the print as the image slowly bleeds through. It’s so fragile. At any moment a door could be opened or a light flicked on and destroy it. Right at the moment of when the image seems perfect you quickly sumerge it the stop bath. Here you breath. Carefully pick it up with the tongs you let the liquid run off into the tray. As you pick up one side of the fixer tray and drop it, you‘re eyeing the small wave crated. With the timing and agility of a pro surfer you quickly slip your print under the wave. For the next 5 or 8 minutes you rock the tray to sleep like a proud parent. Now the mind runs. “What does it all mean?” “Wow, my arm is feeling the burn. I really need you work out more.” “What time is it? Was it sunny outside? I can’t remember.” “This splashing is really making me need to pee.” Finally the timer is done. Drain then a quick dunk in water you are ready to see the final image. Walking outside you allow your eyes to adjust. “Well F*#@. Dust.” You begin again.

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A more personal view

As my first blog post I want to give you a bit more personal “about me.” Like what you may have already have seen on my about me page, I live in Portland Oregon, but am from southern California. In my past I have had many fun and interesting job. The ten years I worked at Doheny State Beach, I cleaned aquariums, feed moray eels, dealt with dead whales on the beach, curated our museum, organized volunteers, gave campfire programs, and was the buyer for the gift store. The parks and outdoor education has a very special place in my heart.

I received my Bachelor’s degree in art from California State University, Fullerton. My concentrations were in graphic design and photograph. I love type. If you know a graphic designer you know that this love can become an obsession. You will never really notice good a type face or font unless you are looking for it. It’s like bass in a song, sometimes you can’t really pick it out but without it the song just doesn’t sound right. I consider graphic design as my trade, and photography as my art. My camera has been packed away for the last few years. Maybe it was one to many bridezillas, or the lack of funds to upgrade my digital gear, but I lost the taste for it. Recently we bought a house and I am slowing unpacking all my art supplies, including my old trustworthy film cameras. It was like seeing an old friend, and realizing how much you’ve missed them. Now the butter cubby in my refrigerator is full of film again. I am starting to feel a little more complete every time I advance the film one more frame.

Now am like most people, love my garden, love to cook. Eating tomatoes from the vine is like eating candy to me. Making a new dish is an adventure! But really, I LOVE FOOD. Yep, total love food. I love eating it, making it, sharing it, and seeing it grow. It’s crazy but I feel like a mad sciences when am scraping a meal together. My sister call me a kitchen witch. She thinks I look like a scattered brained witch mixing her incantations. Well, no wonder! All of my spices are in a hodgepodge of jars with hand written labels of all different shapes. I also have a pantry full of home canned meats, veggies, sauces, and soups. My big black cast iron pot sits on my stove waiting for the next roux, or pot roast. It is magic when to add everything together then an hour later you have a meal to nourish, and comfort. 

So thats me! (in about 450 words)