Endless Ocean ASMR: Fort Bragg, California

I actually have culled through my ocean pictures from our trip, but I just can’t go with any less than these. Even if it’s just for my own benefit of collecting them all in one place. I hope you’ll look through them and find a sense of peaceful joy.

We’ve been to the ocean many times during the past three years of living in California, but we’ve yet to just BE at the ocean. We’re always doing something around it but this time my only request was to be able to sit on the beach and read, etc.

Scott brought his fishing pole and we each had three blissful hours of absolute relaxation. There weren’t many people at the beach we happened upon, which made it even sweeter.

I read and cross-stitched and fell in love with two little girls and their sweet parents. Tilly smelled and smelled and loved getting wet. The sun was warm but the temperatures were very cool. I’m telling you…lots of people leave their hearts in San Francisco, but Scott and I left a huge piece of ours in Fort Bragg, California at Pudding Creek Beach.

We explored. We breathed slow and deep. We fell in love with the area and deeper with each other. What a wonderful new place to return to again and again…

One of the many things I love about Scott is his unguarded enthusiasm. He and Tilly took a walk on the beach while I set up my little spot in the sand. Soon they were back and Scott was animatedly telling me that I had to come see this “really cool hiding spot!”

Tilly met a new friend. And like any pre-teen girl, she chased him senselessly without pride or reserve.

Ahhhhh the tribulations of young summer love.

Pawprints in the Sand

I love the California shoreline. It’s craggy and moody and looks like every suspenseful movie or book plot you’ve ever imagined. I always think of Daphne DuMaurier’s, REBECCA. Words like plummeted or at the edge of the shoreline or discarded mitten come to mind. – ha!! (I’ve never lacked an active imagination.)

I want to learn how to speak to anyone at any time and make us both feel a little bit better, lighter, richer, with no commitments of ever meeting again. I want to learn how to stand wherever with whomever and still feel stable. I want to learn how to unlock the locks to our minds, my mind, so that when I hear opinions or views that don’t match up with mine, I can still listen and understand. I want to burn up lifeless habits of following maps and to-do lists, and I want to go back to the way nature shaped me. I want to learn to go on well with whatever I have in my hands at the moment in a natural state of mind,
certain like the sea.

I will find comfort in the rhythm of the sea.

Charlotte Eriksson

Happiest World Ocean Day 2022 today. Oceans are vast and intimidating and mysterious and all the more alluring because of it.

The Call of the Mild

You know that emoji with the shocked face, gaping eyes, and raised eyebrows?? 😳 Imagine our goldendoodle, Tilly, with that expression on her people-loving, never-met-a-foe, mild-mannered, pampered face as we drove through the California Napa Valley, listening to The Call of the Wild by Jack London on audio. She had no idea dogs could even act with such violence toward each other or that dog owners would leave their dogs to burrow in a snow pile for warmth at night.

She was aghast!

On our way to the coast for some much-needed time away, we stopped in Glen Ellen, California, at the home of Jack London (1876-1916), one of the first American writers to make successful money during his lifetime (not just posthumously.) He also was one of the first authors to write what would later become known as science fiction.

We listened to The Call of the Wild in the car, quickly invested in the life of Buck – the fictional main character (dog) of London’s 1903 novel. Driving through the vineyard country, then through the magnificent redwoods, on to the sandy beaches of the Pacific, we listened and gasped and reassuringly patted Tilly’s head as we made our way westward.

Calling on his canine ancestors, Buck endured difficult days, learning experiences, and eventually, to trust and love again.

He was older than the days he had seen and the breaths he had drawn.

We have much to learn from our four-legged companions, a wealth of wisdom and insight at our fingertips, in the lives lived of generations past.

Rattlesnakes aside, we walked the grounds of London’s home, graveyard, and museum and picked up a few of his treasured short stories to add to our library.

It was difficult to photograph due to the lighting, but this view from his home looked out over the coastal mountains with pine trees enveloping the house. I mean… who couldn’t write with a view like that?!

Precursor to John Steinbeck, London wrote with the same rugged determination that many of his American literary comrades strove to achieve…the wild West calling to their masculine imagery and dreams. London was part of the radical literary group “The Crowd” in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of workers’ rights and socialism.

After our literary pit stop, Tilly, Scott, and I (a trio of not so rough and tough, hardened adventurers) packed back in our car and kept driving West toward our final destination.

The wild was calling us, but in a much more mildly temperate fashion.

Tilly’s First Tide

Vacationing without vacationing seems to be our rallying cry this summer. Keeping things local, daytrips, and ‘cheap entertainment’. Like so many of you, COVID has left its mark on many. We continue to be grateful, however. For health and the health of our extended family as well.

And, of course, for Tilly and all of her unadulterated joy. It is her one and only goal in life: to play.

We thought it was time to venture out and introduce her to the Pacific Ocean for her four month birthday. She’s 16 weeks old and we have had her for exactly half of those weeks. She’s changed and grown in a million ways! (And literally grown. When we got her she was 6.3 lbs and is now 26.8 lbs!)

The beaches were full, but nothing like what you see on tv. People were broadly spaced and many wore masks. Bodega Bay is a more liberally-minded area of Northern California so it was nice to step into their heightened concern for public well-being and not feel like the odd man out like we do sometimes in the Sacramento suburbs.

It felt so good to hear the waves and smell the salty water. Driving through the mighty pine trees was also filled with the undeniable scent of fresh pine in the air.

Tilly loved the water. No surprise. But what she was mostly interested in were the other dogs and people! She is a quarantine puppy so she’s been severely people-limited. I’m not sure how socialization will go in the future, but she seems to be endlessly curious about all these potential playmates!

She ran Scott up and down the incoming waves!

She was a mess when it was done, though! Her curly hair was not quite curled right since it was naturally blow-dried in the ocean breeze.

We ate in town – crab and fish. This town is known for their crabbing and oysters. Someday Scott plans on doing some crab catching at the cove – hopefully with a fish-loving dog in tow.

We also ran across this crazy flower. I don’t know what kind of flower or plant it is. Seems like it would be on a cactus but I don’t think that’s what it was. The bloom was as big as a dinner plate.

What a day! Admittedly, it was a lot more stressful than if it had just been the two of us, but we were excited to introduce Tilly to the ocean and were thrilled that she loved it!

Here are a number of videos of her first time experience…

 

It was slated to be a hot day in Sacramento (dry heat or not, 107 is HOT!), so we did the only logical thing and headed to the shore. The sun was high but it was 66 degrees of pure heaven.

Patio, Pups and Projects

Our neighbor had an intrusive tree removed last year that made a lot of sense for her. Cleared up her backyard nicely. But this spring I’m noticing how MUCH more sun we are getting on our back patio (and we got a lot to begin with.) The hardest adjustment to California from the Midwest has been the unbelievable LEVEL of sun rays. It gets very hot very quickly when in the sun. 

So, we decided to rearrange a few things and get a table umbrella to shield a little bit of the intensity.

I seem to prefer neutrals and nature colors on the inside, so it feels like I’ve gone off the rails on color in the backyard this year. -ha. And it all started with a rug.

I love our ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ sun we lovingly bought a few years ago in honor of Charles Osgood’s retirement. (Has it been as good since he left?) I also have enjoyed the ombre growth of this ivy up our fence (old as it is.) We tried to direct the ivy up the fence last summer and some of it has decided to cooperate. Hopefully more of the ivy on the ground will take notice and decide to do a little scaling themselves this year.

I very much like the color blue. However, I rarely use it. I’m not sure why but I’ve never gravitated toward it in my own home – while appreciating it in others’ homes. Something crazy struck me, however, and I fell instantly for this outdoor rug. Everything else grew from that.

Last year we severely trimmed back the oleander bushes. The back of our yard still has plenty (and are currently heavily sagging because the pink blooms are getting ready to break open.) The white bushes on the side of the patio have a sturdy ‘trunk’ so we trimmed them to look more like trees than bushes. And they are blooming beautifully.

Salmon, navy, teal and touches of purple are in the rug so the plants and pillows followed suit. 

(Please tell the person who jimmy-rigged this ‘hanging’ pot to cut off the janky strings and try to make it more presentable.) (aka: it was me.)

I think this sassy parrot is my favorite part of the backyard update. How can you not feel energized by her while sipping your morning chai?

By the way, reader, we are firmly ignoring the nasturiums that I repotted and now they’re acting dead. They’ll come back – they just can’t help themselves.

Is the parrot pillow my favorite thing or is this stunning variegated Japanese aralia? It’s a close call.

Two important ‘life discoveries’ I’ve made (…or recently admitted to…) this spring have been

  • I have done it, lived it, studied it, and now – I’m done with succulents. They are too temperamental. Every time you touch one to deadhead it, the other leaves get knocked off so planting them is a huge pain (think: the delicate Operation game of our youth.) Even though I still have a ton – we will eventually part ways. Melanie – I wish you were here to give them all to. They need youth and patience and I’m sorely lacking on both accounts.
  • And secondly, I am not a flower person either. I have been spoiled by houseplants. They’re strong and sturdy and I at least know how to read them better than flowers in the California sun. Many lessons learned.

It’s all about self-actualization, people. Growth and improvements, right?

Tilly and her old man eyebrows and soul patch. As long as she has a leaf or a dead plant, she’s in high heaven!

The thing about oleander flowers is that they bloom all summer long. Well into fall, actually. They last a long time when you cut them and bring them indoors and their foliage is a staple for flower arrangements. You literally have to throw them away before they die. -ha. 

I love wonky pottery. I found this one years ago at an antique mall and it called to me. This little blue vase (that needs more water, I see) houses our once and done gardenia flowers. What a powerful scent! I love them so much!!

Haddie. Always around. Always on-point and watching all the activity but wanting to play it cool like she doesn’t care. She teases Tilly and loves the attention Tilly gives her. But admitting love is just not in her character. 

If you follow me on Facebook you know we tried to create an area of the sideyard for Tilly to go to the bathroom. But after training her to go outside ANYWHERE, it’s been difficult to condense her to just one spot now. So we are going to try a fence with a gate – cordoning off the patio area as separate from her play and go area. California backyards are small and we were lucky to get a little spot of yard in the back and now we don’t want to give it all over to a new puppy. 

Concessions and compromises! 

On the other side of the fence is our cactus garden. I am AAAAMAAAAAZED at how quickly the cacti have grown over the winter. We started with nothing and they have practically taken over the back of our house. I love the desert vibe they give out and have loved watching a completely new kind of plant grow.

Scott’s BBQ grill is kept going year-round. As much as possible we cook out there!

Dad gave me some castor bean seeds last year that have grown ominously on the corner of our house. They’re about ready to take over our blue agave (Agave Maria)!

I once read that California was never meant to have inhabitants because there are so many natural elements to overcome. It’s interesting how wildlife and humans have adapted to the unique environment of the Pacific coast.

Just like a kid, we do our best to wear her down every evening. She looks happy and satisfied, don’t you think??

What I would normally consider Spring in the Midwest is ending here in northern CA. We are staring summer in the face next week – many 100 degree days scheduled. But this week has been mild and enjoyable. I am learning that California doesn’t believe in easing anyone into a new situation – it just drops it hot and smoldering in your lap. 

We’ll be very happy with our new umbrella shade. 

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!!!

T I L L Y

Just like my own kids, I have done a lousy job of recording our newest family member’s life.

Meet Tilly.
Officially: Matilda Corona Sutherland


(April 2)

Yes, one of the new Quarantine puppies of the world.

We picked her up on April 2 and WOW!, what a whirlwind of a month we’ve had.

Whew…puppy parenting is no joke. The first two weeks I was very uncertain that I had what it takes. It was intense! Luckily, Tilly (a black Goldendoodle) is a total people pleaser (a wonderful trait of that breed.) She doesn’t like messing up any more than we like her mess ups. I’m knocking on wood and crossing all my fingers when I say that she’s pretty much potty-trained. She’s not sleeping all the way through the night, but she’ll get there. She takes many naps throughout the day (can hardly keep her head up sometimes) and I forgot how wonderful those times are. Just like my kids, though, I get worried when she’s slept too long and sneak in to make sure she’s still breathing!

As we were preparing for her and waiting for her to be old enough to come live with us, I bought a stuffed panda bear that I thought would be cool to take her picture next to each consecutive month.

(April 6)

Maybe next month! -ha!

I feel like the experts would tell me there are a million things we’re supposed to be doing, but when you’re real time with a new baby or puppy, it’s a very different world than baby books and YouTube training tutorials.

We’re all finding our way and doing lots of bonding and playing and napping!

Tilly has the sweetest personality. Very loving and pretty laid back. She just wants to be nearby, wherever we are.

She is 100% spoiled. Scott made her some pumpkin-flavored dog biscuits and she loved them! She also loves broccoli and carrots (and steak and bacon!) But just a little of the people food.

I think one of the deterrents to posting about her is that in the time it took me to put this together, it’s all out of date and she’s grown and changed even more! But I promise…future posts won’t be this long or picture-laden. (wink, wink.)

She’s almost 3 months old. She was born on February 2. She seems to change and grow daily!

We really wanted her to be a car-loving dog so we’ve taken quite a few little trips to get her accustomed to daytrips and she enjoys it very much. She’ll like it even better when she’s a little taller and can see out her side windows.

It seems like so much longer than just one month that we’ve had her, but I can’t imagine life without her now. She’s been a welcome addition in a time of so much uncertainty and worry. We’re excited to be finished with all her shots so she can go on walks around the block. That’s our big goal this month: learning to walk on a leash.

(… and learning to leave plants right where they are!)

Tilly’s relationship with her stuffed dog is a little more than I want to share on a family-friendly blog (get a room!) but look how much she has grown in comparison to it from April 2…

…to April 28!

Her parents are a golden retriever and a full-size poodle so she has a lot more growth ahead!!

Thanks for reading this far! She’s been properly introduced and blog-recorded now. I promise all Tilly posts from now on will be much shorter.

Hunkering down together,
Scott, Greta, Haddie (still the queen cat) and Tilly


(April 18)