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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Leaping Humpbacks!


video


I got mad at Nicole when she told me she had no pants. She had come to visit me in Santa Cruz in July, and she brought no pants. No pants! What about our cool foggy mornings? And now, she had talked me into going on an 8am whale watching trip on the Monterey Bay, and she had no pants. I laughed at the flimsy dress she thought was appropriate boat wear and gave her a pair of tights, some wool socks, a pair of tennies, a beanie, and a wool coat to put on. As we drove south to Moss Landing, I regretted forgetting scarves and gloves. I work for Sanctuary Cruises Whale Watching, and part of my job is to explain appropriate boat wear to customers.

Moss Landing Harbor, Dock A, where the adventure begins

I probably shamed Nicole a bit too much for her lack of warm clothing, since she was visiting from Philadelphia, where it is currently hovering around 100 degrees, but I was cranky because we got up so early to catch the boat. Shortly into the trip on the foggy ocean we spotted Humpback Whales. Sometimes we could hear spouts from their blowholes, but not see them for the thick fog. Their giant dark grey humped backs sliced out of the ocean, we heard the sound of releasing air, then down for a moment, then, when we were lucky, the tail flukes lifted out of the water as they dove down for anchovies. Each whale has a distinctive white pattern under the tail fluke, which can be used to identify different whales, much like a human's fingerprint. The edges of the flukes are lined with barnacles that sometimes dangle like earrings as the whale propels itself down to the depths.




We were hanging with these whales, probably about three of them, and sometimes we'd lose them and have to listen for their blowholes and point in the direction of the sound so the captain could move the boat closer. Suddenly, one of the whales fully jumped out of the water, propelling itself vertically up out of the ocean, and twisting in the air as it splashed back in. We gasped in delight. It was the first time I'd seen a breaching whale!

Soon after, another whale jumped clear out of the water. Then one of them turned to its side, stuck its fin out of the water, as if it was waving to us, and slapped the fin down on the water, over and over again. Before we knew it, there was another breach. It was impossible to tell the whales apart, since we'd just met them, but I think two of the whales were alternating jumps, as if they were playing with each other.



The leaping went on and on! I counted 12 breaches before we had to motor back to the harbor. I have a feeling the whales kept putting on a show after we left too. I caught two breaches in a one minute video I shot, which you can see above. I still cannot believe my eyes when I watch the video.

With all the fog that morning, everything we saw felt like an ethereal dream. We couldn't see the shore or the horizon. The whales were close enough to see details, while mist shrouded the surrounding ocean. Nicole saw these amazing creatures for the first time, claiming, "You know Madeline, it really isn't that cold!" Meanwhile, I was reminded how magical whale watching can be, all the while wishing I'd brought my scarf and gloves.

Link:
Sanctuary Cruises Whale Watching

Monday, May 18, 2015

Frida Kahlo's Mexico City

I have wanderlust. I've been caring for my baby in Santa Cruz for over a year, and I want to travel internationally so bad it hurts. Thats not going to happen, so I am revisiting an adventure I had years ago, imagining myself in Frida Kahlo's Mexico City. 

I was inspired to write this post by a New York Times Article here, about Frida's current popularity, 60 years after her death. What most caught my attention in the article is the show about Frida at the New York Botanical Garden. Oh how I wish I could go!

Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, which translates to: Museum House Studio. Juan O'Gorman designed and built the twin home studios for Frida and Diego, who lived and worked
"next door" to each other for 7 years here. Frida moved back to her parents' home in 1941, when her father passed away, but Diego stayed in the twin houses until his death in 1981.






Exhibits like this make me miss New York so much! The New York Botanical Garden opened the show "Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life" on May 16th. The exhibit features Kahlo's art work, plus a reimagining of Frida's garden at her parent's home in Coyocan, Mexico City. Special events will feature dance, music, food and film inspired by Frida's artistic influences.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Happy Spring! May Fair at Santa Cruz Waldorf School

Maypole dancers

We spent May 2nd at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School for their May Fair. The traditional maypole dance, performed by the 6th grade class, was every bit as beautiful as I remember from childhood.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Waterfalls, Bluegrass and Lobster: Baby's First Trip to Big Sur

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur
Big Sur is one of my favorite places on earth. Luckily, it’s right down the road from my home Santa Cruz. Our new baby kept us from visiting rugged and isolated Big Sur over the past 16 months. Finally, this month we spent an entire weekend at Fernwood Resort and in Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. Having a baby limits what you can do in Big Sur, but not by much. Wilder was happy as a clam during our three day trip. 


Lupine in the meadow at Fernwood, where it meets Pfieffer State Park

Fernwood Resort - Fernwood is the party campground at Big Sur - not the obvious choice for a family with a baby. It (kind of) worked for us because our family friends were having a big birthday celebration at Fernwood, and we wanted to be close to the action. Unfortunately, Friday night the campsite across from us was party central. The wanna-be frat boys and girls drunkenly yelled into the wee hours. The baby slept right through it, but it kept me up. It’s the third time I’ve been kept up all night by noisy partiers at Fernwood. Seems to come with the territory.

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Shoulda Been Woulda Been Birthday

Pirate gramps

On April Fool's Day my extended family got together to celebrate my sister's birthday. We also had another shoulda been coulda been birthday to recognize - Wilder's. Wilder's due date was April 1, 2014. He surprised us by arriving the year before, in December 2013. His adjusted age is now ONE YEAR OLD, even though we celebrated his one year birthday in December. For the first few years, preemies are considered to be developmentally the age that they would be, had they been born on their due date. I know, its confusing. Wilder looks like a one year old, which is to be expected, even though his chronological age is 15.5 months. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Meadows of Schwan Lake




I found myself in a meadow the other morning, walking with Wilder. The meadow surprised me, being not where I expected it to be - so near my family home - walkable from both my house and my grandmother's house. I had eyeballed the land jutting out onto Schwan Lake, visible when driving past Twin Lakes Beach, wondering how to access it. With a google search I realized the trail begins right on 17th Avenue, which couldn't be more convenient for me.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Baby is the Most Demanding Boss I've Ever Had

Wilder sucks a lemon
I am a woman who lived 35 years on this earth - eating, drinking, sleeping, working, reading, laughing, loving, traveling, taking photos - all for myself. I led my life. I thought a lot, brain always whirring, about absolutely everything. Today I am a woman, now 36 years old, who exists to nurture my baby. I have thrown myself into this job like a workaholic. 

Wilder is a demanding boss. He requires a 168-hour work week, including all nights and weekends. I can’t daydream too much or he’ll bonk his head on something or eat cat poop. I can no longer keep track of the little things. I’m so forgetful. I have a very real condition known as “baby brain.” 

Baby brain is discombobulating. The U.S. should adopt one year paid family leave for both parents - not just because it would be “nice” to have that time off with your new baby - because it is nearly impossible to be a fully functional part of society while caring for a brand new little one. I was a perfectionist in my past, childless life. I had particular ideas about how my life should be, and I was able to make it so. Not anymore.