A Walk on the Wild Side

Ormond Beach

California is a land of contradiction.  Los Angeles sprawls 50 miles south of where I live, and yet there are wetlands nearby that serve as rest stops for migratory birds.  Locally, Ormond Beach, which is between the Seabee base in Port Hueneme, and the Navy base at Point Mugu.  Currently, areas of the beach are closed off for nesting birds whose only nest is a shallow indentation in the sand, with eggs speckled to match.

Nature Conservancy Sign

Today, I met up with a number of people for a hike sponsored by the local Nature Conservancy, whose essential philosophy is to preserve wild places by buying land, and keeping people out.  They have bought up and have had land donated for the Ormond Beach Wetlands Restoration Project.  They also have other sites here in Ventura County, such as in the Santa Clara River, which is one of the last – if not the last – river in Southern California that has not been modified between its source and release into the Pacific Ocean.

Power Plant and Farmland

Recycling Plant

Power Plant

Coastal fog and overcast are normal for the California coast in May and June.  It can be wet and drizzly and grey, while a few miles inland sunshine reigns.  This fog is essential to many California environments, and while not fun to be in at times, it is really stunning in its own right.  We live inland, so the sun is usually visible, but today, it has spread to our own valley.  I left a slightly sunny inland valley to arrive to a drizzly, drippy beach.  My glasses and camera lens had rain drops on them (I hope the camera will be okay – seems to be), and soon my clothes and hair were wet.  Our starting point was a local recycling plant, at the end of a road, and we had views of the Halaco property, which is part of Superfund clean-up efforts . . . there are power plants here, visible across fields ready to plant.  It’s a rather dreary place in the gloom.

Halaco Hill - A Superfund Clean-up Site

Our guides were knowledgeable about the area.  While very flat, the plants and such could be a bit of a challenge to trudge through.  We saw various birds, such as great blue herons, great white egrets, horned larks, terns, and snowy plovers,  Flowers such as coastal lupine, beach morning-glory, dune primrose, and non-native species were also in bloom.  We found animal toilets, where this animal and that pooped, leaving behind interesting scat filled with remains of pelagic crabs, feathers, and bones.  Animal trails showed paw prints of coyotes, raccoons, herons, and other small birds.

Spider Web and Raindrops




Raccoon Print

Beach Flower

In a world increasingly damaged, the beauty and delicacy of the natural environment is accordingly threatened.  Places such as Ormond Beach are a refuge for not only birds and animals, but for humans as well.  I enjoyed this hike, and came home like a little kid, covered in mud and muck, soaking wet, and completely refreshed by a beautiful world and fun companions.

Anacapa Island


At Ormond Beach with the Nature Conservancy

Here is a gallery of all the photos here, and then some, I took.


Black & White

Not really sure where I am . . . have had a cold for a week, and in this same week there have been anniversaries and parties and graduations and memorials for those who have passed, mixed with all sorts of other things.  Playing in the garden, playing with photos, a bit of this and that, but nothing that just grabs the soul.  Well, not true – we had a wonderful graduation party!  That said, here are some of my forays into processing color into black and white using the B&W channels in the HSL section of Lightroom.  Kind of pleased with the overall results, and maybe learned something . . . what did please me was the simplicity of strong contrasts and subject matter.

Getting Back Into

Last post was about finding the right word.  That word is integrity.  In art or life, it means an adherence to a principle; of being complete.  My life for the past year has been lived in gasps.  Returning to breathing means living to do things, to be, to become, to live, etc. . . . all those silly things which stop seeming silly once you realize they have slowly – or rapidly – vanished.  I don’t want to take my life for granted, nor feel as if there are only three days a week in which to live – if existing can be called living – as the other four were all blacked out to simply go to work.

And so, integrity is beginning to return to my life.  I’ve been doing, which for me is how I choose to live.  I’m not quite like Descartes:  I think, therefore I am.  Me:  I do, therefore I am.

Ok, so what’s been happening?  This has been happening:

  • coloring
  • writing
  • hiking
  • exercising
  • creating new dishes in the kitchen
  • following recipes
  • calling up friends
  • visiting friends
  • photography – film and digital
  • post-processing images
  • reading
  • knitting
  • sewing
  • finishing things!

This morning, a hike, up and down steep hills, pausing to enjoy the lushness of a California spring – green hills, flowers, blue skies, butterflies, birds.

The pleasure of simply being alive is simply wonderful!  In between, I have been going to work.  ;-)

The Elusive Word

If you have been following this blog of late, you know I have been – and am – in a funk. Being discontented with one’s life can lead to getting lost amongst the lemmings, or choosing the proverbial other road. I don’t really need to do one or the other, in a way; what I need to do is to make the choice!


Last night I went out with a friend – one of those great friends where no holds are barred, and you can just ramble and expose your thoughts and feelings without being afraid. We both were into it, and I came home feeling really good – refreshed mentally. So did she. Working so late and so long has prevented my having much contact with people I like, and now try to do something like this on a weekly basis. I’m stealing back all the little pieces of my life that disappeared over the past year.

Sure, the argument can be made that I shouldn’t have let it happen, but the fact is, it did happen. There is only so much time in the day. And there is only so much energy, too. As an introvert, “me time” has to be there before I can deal with people and be a nice person. No “me time” and I have no idea who I am.

Somewhere in the dark recesses of sleep, probably as my subconscious was working through whatever it does in dreams, the elusive word – the one-word description for what I am trying to regain – came to me: Integrity.

Me and My Coloring Book

Me and My Coloring Book

I picked this up at the store the other day. There are a lot of books out there, and apparently groups and so on, for coloring book colorers. Fiddling with your hands is a great stress reducer, but at the same time, I know that while I color away, I am beginning to think about the juxtapositioning of colors – analogous, complementary, triads. Oh, boy!

I am also knitting socks. And now the iron is available. I even did some exercises this morning. I must be nuts. And, it feels good!!

Reconsiderations and Musings

I haven’t posted in a long time, and in my opinion, the quality of my postings has declined quite a bit.  The reason for this, in retrospect, is because the quality of my life, as I see it, has declined.  With a grueling work schedule that left little time to think or enjoy life, it was in inevitable.  At two points, I was ready to walk away from my job and into retirement, without notice – just “I’m done!” and a 180 degree turn.

There is Nothing Here

Well, that didn’t happen.  Instead, compromise:  my Wednesdays end at 3:30 instead of 6:30.  And that has done the trick.  Interestingly, it has taken me about 8 weeks to adjust to this change.   It was almost as if I had to get to know myself again.  The first two weeks I was really argumentative, as if all my contained frustration had to come spilling out.  Later, it was total self-indulgence – the pleasure of not doing anything, of being irresponsible.  I think I needed to soak up freedom and look at my new open space of time.  Little as that addition of time has been, I no longer feel as if I am living in a complete black box, lost in space, four days out of seven.  Mere existence is hell . . . how do people in solitary confinement do?  I would be dead, I am sure.

After emerging from this chrysalis of newfound time, my desires are once more moving outward.  Escapism is rather over, and exploration and enquiry into the world around me is returning.  I have been visiting friends, accepting social invitations, and taking up new challenges to creativity . . . and being ready and open to them all.  Being locked into non-existence 4 days out of 7 oozed into the other 3 . . . and now existence is oozing back into all days of the week.

Consequently, this has been a year of stagnation and extinction.  Stealing time in my own life is not pleasurable, but degrading because work degraded my life.  Functioning, sure, but living? thriving? enjoying?  Not at all.

And I plan to change that.  The goal is simple – even minimal – but the goal is to have something creative in my hand everyday.  This can be coloring in a coloring book, to sewing or knitting, to photography, to taking some kind of workshop, to hiking.  In other words, a return to the world around me, away from a vortex of nothingness.

It is my hope to log this journey more clearly here at Ink, Yarn & Beer.


Rainy Day

Today a pretty good rain storm is hitting the California coast – up to 3 inches in some areas, with potential mudslides where land has been laid bare by wildfires.  I had hoped to get out before the rain, to take a look at the nearby open space, and possibly take some photos.  Other activities have distracted me, so I thought it was high time to get out.  The thing is, that it was raining pretty hard by the time I was ready – 7:30 a.m. – and it is going to be like this for the rest of the day.  So, instead of getting too far from the safety of the front door, I decided to look at what was around the house and on the patio.  I got a bit wet, and so did the camera, but we both dried off rather nicely.