A whadayacallit? ... from 2011

The two photos below came to me via a thumb drive my brother gave me last June.  I didn't look at what was in the drive till this week, and then I had to laugh when I saw these!  In February 2011 while living in Tallahassee, FL, Jimmy and I traded in our 2005 Class C Lazy Daze motor home for a 2010 gently-used 26+ ft Winnebago Vista at Lazy Days RV in Tampa, FL.  Climbing up to the cab-over bed in the Class C every night to sleep got tedious, and the bed was impossible to make, so we were ready for a change, in more ways than one.  This new Vista suited us to a "T."

Using Photoshop, my late brother, Rob Nykvist, decided to "personalize" our new home-on-wheels for us, as you can see in the two photos.  The new logo never actually made it onto the Vista siding, though I think having a Tergel renamed Nykvista would've been distinctive ... at least it made for a fun picture.  



Hell's Half Acre -- Saturday, 4/22/17

Happy Earth Day!  This annual "event" celebrates the planet's environment, and the ways people can take to defend it.  I might have marched in Sacramento today, but chose to hike in Grass Valley instead.  Jimmy and I spent Thursday and Friday taking care of business in Sacramento, and declared enough already.  However, my hat is off to all those who cared enough to March for Science.

I'm a member of Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) -- a private, non-profit membership-supported group promoting natural, historical and agricultural resources in the Bear and Yuba River watersheds of the Sierra Nevada foothills ... where we live.  They do this in three ways:  1) Save Land, 2) Build Trails, and 3) Encounter Nature.  They sponsor guided treks, like today's wildflower walk at Hell's Half Acre, and my choice for an Earth Day celebration.

But first ... here's Rufus in our back deck Dogwood!  This tiny hummingbird is a migrant who shows up each spring at our feeder.  While he's around, we don't see any other variety of hummers.  I've read that he can be a real terror ... maybe the others hide!

The BYLT group met for the wildflower trek at 9am.  Julie Carville, acclaimed botanist, naturalist, and photographer, would be our leader.  I'm here to report, Julie knows all about wildflowers!  You ask, she can fill you in.  We followed a ditch (like our Cascade Canal path, only not as wide) for a half mile or so, looking to see what could be found.  Because it's been so chilly and because NorCal has received 85-100" of precipitation this year, the wildflower season is off to a slow start.  If we were to return in two or three weeks, we'd spot more blooms, and we now know where to look.  The morning temp was a tolerable 60ish and warmed nicely to 70ish.  A lovely day on earth, and no rain!

Scotch Broom is rampant in our area.  Groups organize parties to yank it out.  None of us had ever seen a two-toned, yellow-orange Scotch Broom.  It's probably also invasive, but it is pretty.  Several of us pulled out small plain yellow Scotch Broom plants; you know, each person does what they can to honor Earth Day.

We didn't hike down the hill to this lumber company, but we were told that the saw mill part in "The Christmas Card" movie was filmed at this location.

A close-up of the usual Scotch Broom flower. 

We have Soap Plant in our yard, too.
Native Americans had all sorts of uses for this plant.

Wild Iris were dotted throughout the first part of our hike. 

Sky Lupines (native annual) put on a good showing.

I love these little Yellow Cat's Ears, a native perennial in the Lily family.
We only saw a few.

Next, we hiked to the meadow where most of the early wildflowers would be found.  Hell’s Half Acre is considered one of the richest wildflower blooms in the region. Native plant lovers are especially fond of this meadow where botanists have recorded more than 100 species of spring flowering plants.  I was looking forward to it.

So many blossoms, stay on the path!

Ramm's Madia, a native annual, mixes with Sky Lupine.

Yellow seems to be the first color of the spring.  Ramm's Madia and Butter and Eggs (aka Johnny Tuck), another native annual, dominate the meadow.

Clumps of White Meadow Foam (native annual) appeared.

Butter and Eggs and White Meadow Foam.

Thousands of yellow Butter and Eggs make walking into the meadow impossible for me.  I can't abide walking on flowers!  Lupines and Ramm's Madia are can be seen, especially toward the back of the photo.

My camera failed me, or I failed it, sorry to say.  Cute little Pansy Monkeyflowers (native annuals) are not in focus, but their bright color made them irresistible to me, so I include them, regardless!  They were teeny-tiny!

Most of these wildflowers are low growers, although the prominent Blue Dicks stands above the rest:  yellow Butter and Eggs and pink Cowbag Clover (udderly amazing name)! We saw more, took more photos, some of mine didn't turn out well ... so this is just a sampling. I could have included Tomcat Clover, Wild Carnation, a geranium I didn't catch the name of, and so many more.  It was a fun morning and I hope to join BYLT for more hikes.  When I got home close to 12:30, what did I do?  You'd never guess. Jimmy and I hopped in the car and went to the nursery to buy strawberry plants and flowers!

Back at the ol' homestead, our Western Dogwood flowers are in fine fettle.
This fly seems content on a petal.

And my Wild Bleeding Hearts!
I have clusters of them all over the yard.
And that makes me happy.

The Black-headed Grosbeak can empty a feeder fast!
Welcome back, fine feathery friend!

Happy Earth Day, be kind, do good, every day!


Odds or Ends -- April 9-12, 2017

Again, spying a break in our otherwise 2017 rainy/stormy weather pattern, we threw a few things in Tergel, and took off down the hill Sunday morning for a three-night stay at Cal-expo RV Park in Sacramento.  Mind you, Sac isn't far from home, maybe 60 or 65 miles and 3000 ft less in elevation, but we really needed to get away while the sun was shining. Besides, I had an early Monday morning medical appointment in Sacramento, and a visit or two with the Joneses and sweet Everly Rose would round out reasons to fly the coop.

We've stayed at Cal-expo before and know the American River Bike Trail is a stone's throw from where we park our RV.  Since we left our bikes at home, getting on our feet Monday after my appointment was exactly what we wanted to do, and so we did.

But first, a flaming tulip from home.
It came close to drowning, but beat the odds.

Jimmy, on the bank of the normally-not-so-lively American River,
but today it's still flowin' high and fast.

The trailside was teeming with wildflowers (achoo! achoo!).

White-veined leaves on the Milk Thistle plant are intriguing, and are very pretty in my eyes, never mind that they can spread like a wildfire.  It's pink/purple prickly flower was attracting lots o' bees.  The plants appeared to be popping up all along the path ... yes, invasive.

Handsome Tom was struttin' and gobblin'!
He had a little gal on the other side of the path he was talking to.

Black Locust flowers (Robinia pseudoacacia) on the river bank.  I've seen these trees in bloom on a prior trip here and wasn't sure what tree it was.  Now we all know!  I couldn't get close enough to catch a scent, but the Wisteria-type flowers look like they'd be fragrant.

Yonder Egret is standing near a slough we'd never seen before.  The American River, like every other waterway in NorCal, overflowed its banks as the result of tons of rain (and snow melt from higher elevations).  I guess we shouldn't have been surprised, but seeing ponds and sloughs filled with water that we'd never seen wet before reminded us that it's been a wild winter.

Turtles, above, on a half submerged log were soaking up the sun.  
We disturbed a covey of Quail, below, as we hiked along.  They zipped into the bushes.

The sky grew overcast (geez), and the temp dropped, but no rain fell.  Stopping beneath this tree, I saw a Nuttall's Woodpecker checking the trunk crevices for a nifty bite or two. 

And this guy was part of a flock of golden-crowned sparrows
gleaning the grass seeds near a golf course.

Tidytips -- Layia platyglossa -- what a cute name for a flower!

* * * * *

I've been plagued by a rash of sorts, as in itchy red spots all over my body, since last November.  Yes, I've been to urgent care, my primary care physician, a naturopath, dermatologists and an allergist, trying to find the cause and cure for the rash.  My appointment Monday morning resulted in a diagnosis of nummular eczema, with a new ointment prescription (taking precedence over all the other jars and tubes I've collected in the past five months).  I'm hoping -- fingers and toes crossed -- that this greasy ointment does the trick.  What I have isn't earth shattering, but it's been hell for me.  Never heard of nummular eczema.

Enough of that.  Anyway, we piloted Tergel to Cal-expo early Sunday afternoon, arriving laden with dinner to share with the young'uns.  Matt was involved in yard work on his day off, so we gave him a hand.  Later, of course, we played with the baby.  Everly Rose is a one-month old doll baby!

Jimmy, getting cozy with The Lollies (at the Pavilions), a sculpture by Ruth Rippon.

On Tuesday, we met Matt and Jen and Everly Rose for lunch in Cafe Bernardo at the Pavilions in Sacramento, not far from Cal-expo.  Each of us ordered something different from the menu, and everything brought to the table was very tasty.  As an added bonus ... little Everly Rose slept through lunch!  After eating, we walked a bit through the outdoor mall to get a coffee.  At that point, she awoke and demanded her own lunch, which Matt delivered via a bottle of Mom's best.

A brisk wind blew and we sought a sheltered nook to drink our coffee and feed Everly.  Gray skies threatened more rain, but we stayed dry.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) we'll have to unhook Tergel early to avoid the upcoming rainstorm (sigh!!).  Jimmy dislikes undoing the utilities in the rain.

So expressive, so cute.

We didn't quite make the unhooking in time .. light rain began while we were drinking our morning coffee.  By the time we got on the road, those windshield wipers were on full.  Not the best drive home, but we made it up the hill and home safely.  Our mini-vacation hit the spot ... a great 5-6 mile walk and lots of baby time ... just what we needed.   A taste of what's hopefully to come.


Remembering Rob Nykvist -- 1957-2016

These rainy days, stuck indoors, have been a time of reflection for me.  My brother has been on my mind and in my dreams quite a bit.  His home on a Dog River canal in Mobile sold yesterday, but prior to its sale, we had a lot of back 'n forth with my sister and the realtor, keeping him alive in a way.  Nannie just closed his facebook page, but I snagged a few of his last photos beforehand.

Rob was a marvelous photographer.  And he loved being on the water.  Jimmy and I shared this affection, and we three spent many happy hours paddling multiple waterways in both Florida and Alabama.  One of our favorites was enjoying the crystal-clear spring-fed Wakulla River several miles south of Tallahassee, with its manatees, alligators, turtles and first-rate birding.  We paddled in the Gulf and Mobile Bay waters as often as we could.  He showed us Whiskey Creek in the Mobile Delta, and he steered us to an island across the Tensaw River; we put in at Rice Creek Landing, Buzbee's and others.  A special moment for us was watching Fairhope's July 4th fireworks directly overhead while in the bay by the pier.  Such wonderful memories.   One October, Rob manned the camera while Jimmy and I "posed" in our kayaks with St Marks Lighthouse as the backdrop ... we used that as our Christmas card picture!  Outdoor and wildlife photos were his specialty and he could capture a magical moment like none other.

When he was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer in July 2016, aside from the fellowship of family, he found peace and clarity the few times he could get out in his kayak.   Below are several photos he took in the two months before he passed away on November 5th.  His words are in blue.

Image may contain: tree, plant, sky, outdoor, nature and water

Fall foliage at Dead Lakes near Wewahitchka, FL and the Chipola River.
(He loved taking nature photos, sunrises, sunsets, critters of any kind.  
This one he took a few years ago on a Florida kayaking trip.)

Image may contain: one or more people, plant, tree, hat, outdoor and nature

9/5/16 -- Shirt says, "Life is Good - Enjoy the Ride."  Hat says, "Paddle or Die." Here are a few photos taken while on a short kayak trip in Dog River today. Yes! Got enough strength to still paddle. :) Doing it while I can. Paddling along the shoreline pickerelweed and other wildflowers.


Rob loved kayaking Dog River and its tributaries. Seeing how others trashed it and the City of Mobile's indifference, made him an advocate ... he dedicated himself to seeing Dog River free and clear of trash and litter. His photos and text documented the ongoing deplorable condition of his beloved river, and his continuing efforts culminated in litter traps being installed. He won kudos for his commitment. Rightly so!

9/8/16 -- I launched the kayak in the dull dawn and paddled out into Dog River to share the sunrise with a couple of herons. A great blue heron stretches out high on the top of a tree (center). I believe herons look forward to seeing sunrises, too.


9/22/16 -- Black Creek has an example of what the destructive force of motorboat wakes has on shoreline trees in a relatively narrow creek.

9/23/16 -- Had to stop paddling and
 get a photo of this densely rotting tree trunk this morning.

9/25/16 -- Pre-Sunrise paddles like this one in Cotton Bayou when waters are calm and boats are absent can be mesmerizing and memorable.

9/28/16 -- Air Dancers. This morning's sunrise. If you use your imagination, look at the stumps in the center of the photo. It looks like a couple dancing in the air above the water.

10/3/16 -- Dog River

October 30th -- This morning's ever changing colorful sunrise over Mobile Bay,
taken from a car seat at Helen Wood Park, not a kayak...

He had no more strength to paddle.  He was running out of time.  Yet, seeing one more sunrise meant the world to him and he did what came naturally -- snapping the above photo to remember ... and share.  He never married and had no children, but he left a legacy as a clean water crusader, as well as a wealth of wonderful photos and memories.  He also left us too soon.

From a friend:  "I think of Rob often...he contributed so much, and that will be carried on. I am happy to have known him for 15 years, happy to have had great paddle trips with him over those years, and pleased to have had many good exchanges with him during his last months. Over the years, there were times we didn't paddle together or talk for several months, but he always surfaced at some point....I'm amazed he is gone and not resurfacing to talk any longer. I miss very much having him around. The headstone is perfect."

We all miss you, Rob.  Rest in Peace.