The Snail Trail, part 2

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve become preoccupied with a photo of a complicated snail trail.

After I splashed color around it, I made a more careful effort to reproduce its trace.

And thus began my (ongoing) effort to see what I was looking at.

The mood and impact change considerably with color.


The Snail Trail, part 1

For a long time I ignored the snails at my local tide pool. Snails. Meh.

Then one day I happened past a snail that had just completed what might have been eternity symbol. After that I was discovering a fabulous new design every few paces.

Since that revelatory day, I’ve made a point of seeking out the artworks that snails have etched in the sand. Like Buddhist sand mandalas, these will be gone with the next high tide. Recently I found this lacy meanderer:

and this delicate brushwork on rock:

Sometimes I spot an artist at work. More often I find them gathered, perhaps at a cafe:

Of all the snail trails I’ve found to date, this one has most captivated me:

Most of this extensive design came from a single snail during one low tide. I’m pretty sure the artist is the dark blob in the lower right. It lacks a snail silhouette because it has seaplants on its shell.

(This is a common tidepool occurrence. Hold still for long and somebody will grow on you:

But I digress.)

I have spent weeks with the extensive snail trail. I have contemplated it, colored it, admired it. Over the next several posts I’ll share some of what I’ve learned by traveling this snail trail.

First, I cropped the trail a bit. (Not sure this made it any less complicated. Perhaps as I advance with my trail work, I will return to the full trail.) Next, I became familiar with the biggest twists and turns:

After that… well, more soon… er… Lots more soon.

As it turns out, fascination, preoccupation, obsession are all parts of the same coin.

An Intriguing Lack of Illumination

Illumination. I love that word. It feels good to say it. Illumination.

This is a post about limited illumination. You might also say it is a post about dim light. In fact, I almost did opt for the latter phrase, because as I writer I find that fewer syllables are usually better. But dim light just doesn’t sound as good.

I don’t remember where I took this photo, nor what it portrays. It failed to capture whatever I had intended to capture. The light was so poor that what was there worked overtime, streaking and bending, struggling to be seen – and in the process, creating a mystery image, full of intrigue. I don’t know what it is but I like it:

2014-08-06 23.09.49




(The Weekly Photo Challenge topic is Refraction.)

Perhaps I Bore Them

Do people yawn when we are bored, or does that only happen in fiction?

Do cats yawn when they are bored? Do cats get bored? How could we tell?

My cats yawn at me pretty frequently. Should I take it personally?


(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge said to juxtapose two photos to engage them in dialogue. I remain clueless about what that means even after it sparked several posts!)

Consumer Nirvana – a short list

All hope abandon, ye who shoppeth here.

All hope abandon, ye who shoppeth here.

Being a consumer makes me anxious and hostile. I go into a store, see shelf after shelf of choices and I don’t revel in having options. I just want to get my laundry soap and get out of here. I become loyal because overwhelmed. I stick with products that slightly work for me because I can’t bear another round of label reading or comparison shopping. Consumer-wise – except for the shortages – I might have done okay in the Soviet Union.

But – there are some times when I glory in being part of a consumer society, when I am enjoying the luxuries that have become necessities because I love them so frigging much. My top two consumer necessities are:

1) the iPad. It captures the essence of all that is charming and easy and cool about Apple products, while allowing me to read and write in the dark, such as on patios on summer nights. I write my first draft novels on my iPad now, and only switch to a laptop because iPad text editing remains at a Neanderthal stage.

2) the automobile seat warmer. Although my last couple cars have had them, it took me years to toggle the on button. The concept seemed weird and pointless, and reminded me of a failed toilet attachment from long ago called “Butt Spa”. Then I tried one (a seat warmer, not a Butt Spa). Now I look forward to driving in frigid weather. And yes, even in southern California it gets cold enough for a seat warmer — if you want it to.

Image from

Before The Day Gets Used

The WordPress Daily Prompt asks: “6:00AM: the best hour of the day, or too close to your 3:00AM bedtime?”

Neither. Both. Sometimes.


Don’t shoot the messenger.

My answer has changed over the years. It used to be that I was only up at dawn if I was still up from the night before. If I could set my own schedule, that would probably still be true.  Actually, what I would prefer is to sleep a few hours at night and the rest of my hours in the afternoon. Afternoons are useless. I like afternoons about as much as Camus’ Stranger likes Sundays. But I digress.  Somebody told me that 4 hrs night/4 hrs afternoon is a paleo sleep schedule: it’s how our distant ancestors slept. Alas, not sure when or if I can give it a try. My sleep schedule has rarely been up to me.  Jobs, schools, doctors, repair guys – they’re the ones in control.

Nowadays, half my body clock seems to be permanently broken. I can still stay up until all hours and most nights I must force myself to go to bed at a decent hour. But – after so many years as a night owl trapped in an early bird world – I cannot sleep in. Period.  So I am now quite familiar with 6 am.

Fortunately, 6a is a marvelous time of day, when all is fresh and full of potential.  In my household, I am the only dawn enthusiast, which makes 6a a “me” time of day. You will find me writing then. Or exercising at my outdoor bootcamp class. Or hiking.  Hiking into a sunrise requires a bit of planning – it all changes so remarkably quickly. The photos below were taken scant minutes apart. Every single day, the world starts in this beautiful way, whether we are there to witness it or not.

A couple minutes before 6a.

A couple minutes before 6a. Goodbye to night.

A couple minutes after 6a.
A couple minutes after 6a. Hello to day.

Clock photo from

Can You Guess Where I Am?

I’ve left my home in California to attend a family reunion in one of the other States of the U.S. Another State and another state! I’m definitely not in California anymore. Now I’m wondering whether the curiosities of this visit are unique, or can be found many places that are not-California. So – does this sound like lots of places you’ve been? Or can you easily identify this new State by the descriptions below? (If so, its features may be unique.)

Here are some local sights that you won’t see in California:

  • The nature preserve has a special section for hunters.
  • A popular Elvis CD is a collection of Gospel songs.
  • There are many lakes and most of them started as sinkholes.
  • The terrain varies from totally flat to really flat.
  • Outside it is wall-to-wall sky.
  • There are amazing thunderclouds more often than not.
  • The sign “Condominium Complex” points to a mobile home park.
  • None of the public bathrooms provide paper toilet seat covers.

Based on these features, what’s your guess? Where am I?

Sorry: family members are not eligible to participate.


A few millennia ago, by internet time – that is, earlier this year – there was social media hoopla about a great Reddit poll which collected the creepiest sayings of kids. I suppose every parent has contributions to that list. I know I do!

When my son was oh, I dunno, maybe 4, he went through a phase of making ridiculous demands early Saturday morning.  Sure enough, early one weekend morning as I tried to catch up on maybe 4 years of sleep, he wanted something. I don’t remember what, exactly. Perhaps that was the week he wanted to climb out his window and sit on the second story roof. Anyway, I said no, as I did each time, and he threw a tantrum, as he did each time. He went back to his room to fuss.

Laying there, pretending I would fall asleep again, I realized the house had grown quiet. This was so unusual I had to worry. I called softly to my son. Maybe he had fallen asleep?!? Nope.

“What, Mom?” he replied. The mystery deepened. He sounded downright cheerful.

“Everything okay in there?”


“Huh. Good. Whatcha’ doin’?”

“Oh, I was just thinking about a bear eating you.”

Discipline is always more difficult when they make you laugh.


When my twins were young, I would occasionally suggest that when they went off to college I would come with them so we could stay together. They thought this was a great idea until they hit about 10. After that, there were a couple years when they reacted guardedly, unsure whether I was kidding. After that, they reacted like teenagers.

Back when they wanted us to stay together, my son developed a long-term plan that he shared with gusto. When he was grown, he would build a house behind his own house, and that would be the house where I lived. Then, after I died, he would bury me in the walls so that I could stay there forever.

He has always been a thoughtful person.


Surprised to say, I can’t recall any creepy sayings from my daughter.  However, I will never forget – and am eternally uplifted – by one thing she said to me. She was 3 or 4 at the time: “If ever you fall low I will raise you up.”

And that has proved true ever since.

All the Blues Imaginable

One of the great treats about being alive and on this planet is getting to see the ocean at sunrise and sunset. I am always staggered by the number of different colors in the water. I’ve yet to get a photo that comes close to capturing it, but maybe that’s okay. Because I don’t have a photo I need to keep going back to see the real thing.

The full moon sets and the sun rises at Carlsbad Beach, San Diego County, California

The full moon sets and the sun rises at Carlsbad Beach, San Diego County, California

(Posted for the latest Weekly Photo Challenge.)

Manhattan, Very Early

Last year I got to take my kids to New York for a few days. Our return flight was early one morning. I love this shot of my son – up way before his body clock would usually allow – taking in his last views of Manhattan before we departed. We were almost the only ones up…

Goodbye, New York.

Goodbye, New York.

Another crack-o’-dawn morning on the trip, my daughter and I walked out to the East River to watch the sun rise. That’s my daughter huddled on the side of the photo – it was colder than we had anticipated.

OK, we saw the sunrise, now let's go back to bed.

OK, we saw the sunrise, now let’s go back to bed.

(Posted for the latest Weekly Photo Challenge.)