Piedras Blancas Light Station

It’s strange to see a lighthouse without its top.

But it’s also a unique situation that would leave a lighthouse looking this way.

And that’s exactly the case with the Piedras Blancas Light Station.

Originally standing at 100 feet, the Piedras Blancas Light Station is now reduced to about 70 feet. Over the years it suffered damage from earthquake after earthquake until, in the late 1940s, one final earthquake rendered it structurally unsound. In 1949 the top three levels – fourth floor landing, watch room, and lantern – were removed.

Construction on Piedras Blancas Light Station began in April 1874 and was complete by February the following year. It was illuminated for the first time on February 15, 1875.

A fog signal building was constructed in the early 1900s.

As was the case at numerous lighthouses, if not all lighthouses, the life of a keeper was difficult. Not only did they face adverse weather conditions, but they also struggled with how to obtain a proper supply of food and water. Their lives were one of isolation while their work was labor intensive.

At Piedras Blancas Light Station fishing was a popular pastime and plenty of abalone was collected for food. As for water, keepers collected rainwater from the roof. At other times water had to be purchased and brought by wagon.

Despite the harsh weather, isolation, and difficult lifestyle, Piedras Blancas Light Station is a beautiful place.

Today there is a trail that leads around the perimeter, runs parallel to the coast. Walking the trail is both beautiful and peaceful. There’s plenty of interesting rock formations as well as plant and sea life. Flowers and other plants grow on land while elephant seals, sea lions, sea otters, gray whales, and many other animals have a chance to be spotted.

The fuel building still exists and continues to hold the lingering scent of gasoline.

The fog signal building, originally built in 1906, has been restored.

The entrance gate (1910) and the water tower have had beautiful replicas constructed.

The Piedras Blancas Light Station still has no top. The goal is to one day restore the tower and lighthouse to its former glory. Still, even missing it’s last three levels, it doesn’t take away from this lighthouse, or this place, any of its history or beauty.


Female Keepers of the Light

The life of a lighthouse keeper wasn’t easy. It was, often times, a life of isolation, filled with many perils. Most lighthouses were located on fairly remote pieces of land. Some were even islands out at sea. So, it can only be imagined that this life took a certain type of person.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s why we rarely, if ever, hear about female lighthouse keepers.

I recently read a book called California Lighthouse Life in the 1920s and 1930s. Not only was this an interesting time in history, but the book mentioned four female lighthouse keepers – Julia Williams, Emily Fish, Laura Hecox, and Juliet Nichols.

Julia Williams was the Principal Lighthouse Keeper of the Santa Barbra Lighthouse. Completed in 1856, Julia took over as keeper in 1865, when she was 39 years old. While continuing her daily duties as keeper, Julia also took care of her five children. She held her position at the lighthouse for 40 years, the longest of any California keeper.

Point Pinos Lighthouse was lit for the first time in 1855. Thirty-eight years after the lighthouse was first operational, Emily Fish, at the age of 50, took over as keeper. Although there was no official uniform for female lighthouse keepers, she devised one of her own. Sometimes known as the ‘socialite keeper’ because of her love for entertaining, she held her position at Point Pinos for 21 years.

Laura Hecox, daughter to Adna Hecox, keeper of the Santa Cruz Lighthouse, was appointed to the position of lighthouse keeper in 1883, after her father’s death. She was 29 years old. Laura kept the position for 33 years. Although, she was much more than a lighthouse keeper. She was far ahead of her time and had a range of interests that, by the standards of the day and age, seemed uncharacteristic for women – archeology, history, architecture, astronomy, botany, minerals, just to name a few. While serving as keeper she navigated her way around the area in which the lighthouse was constructed, noting and categorizing plants and collecting specimens. Today, Laura Hecox is known as Santa Cruz’s pioneer marine biologist.

In 1886, the Angel Island Light Station on Angel Island’s Point Knox was established as a bell-fog signal station. It wasn’t until 1900, when a small lens-lantern was hug from the side of the bell house, that it was upgraded to a light station. In 1902, Juliet Nichols took up a post as keeper of this light station when her husband died during the Spanish-American War. She was 43 at the time. Even during the 1906 earthquake she stayed, watching San Francisco burn from her post. For 12 years she kept her position. In 1914, Juliet Nichols and her mother, Emily Fish, keeper of Point Pinos Lighthouse, both departed from their positions of keeper.

Though being a lighthouse keeper is sure to be classified as a ‘boys club’ or ‘man’s world,’ these women are the exception. And while they may not have been keepers of the light, wives and family lived with the male keepers, often times tending to the light when their husband was unable to do so. (As was the case with The Southampton Shoal Lighthouse and Albert Joost. When he was badly burned in 1934, his wife, Evelyn, was left to take care of the light and lens.) There are many more woman who we rarely, if ever, hear about when being taught the history of lighthouses, but these extraordinary women had the same important job of tending to the light as their male counterparts.

Great White Egret

snow white feathers
billow in the breeze
long, slender neck
elegantly stretched
toward the sky –
bright blue beauty –
where you soar in utter freedom
wings spread
gently gliding to land
or bent down toward the saltwater –
hunting –
where you catch your living feast
patiently watching, listening, waiting
before striking with precision
moving gracefully
legs slowly making their way
across seaweed covered rocks
every movement reflected
in the shimmering pools –
the beauty of nature

Love Always (A 500 Word Story)

The fall moon cast its icy light through the window, painting his face in blue hues. He was aware of her presence, but his eyes remained closed as he slipped between wakefulness and a peaceful slumber.

She sat in a cushioned chair beside their bed, watching the cool light play across his face. Some might’ve warned her that this was a foreboding omen of things to come, but she sat calmly, as she had done for several consecutive nights, knowing this was part of life. To her, the moon’s light was the peaceful light of God.

His skin was now old, paper thin, and marked with wrinkles. She smiled, knowing they weren’t mere wrinkles, but lines and paths holding stories of a life well lived. Reaching forward, she stroked his hair, now thinning and mostly gray. He’d aged so gracefully, only beginning to show his true age within the last several months. Still, even if he would’ve aged quickly, she would’ve found him as handsome as the day they met.

She stroked his hair one last time, lightly caressing his face, and laid her hand on his. He was warm, as warm as the love that still burnt inside each of them. She intertwined her fingers with his and squeezed gently. He squeezed back. Closing her eyes, partially so she wouldn’t cry and partially to remember, their fingers stayed as tightly woven as their lives had been for the last 72 years.

They were mere children when they met – high school sweethearts – and so young when they married – she a blushing bride of twenty-one while he a strapping young man of twenty-three. They lived and loved and walked in faith. They were blessed with children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their life together hadn’t always been filled with good times, and it certainly wasn’t always easy, but it was always filled with love.

Her eyes fluttered open, moist in the corners, to rest upon his face. While lost in memories, attempting to control her own emotions, he had turned his face toward her. His eyes were still closed, but she knew he saw her clearly.

She leaned forwarded and whispered, “It’s alright. You can go.”

He was living for her, resisting God’s outstretched hand. It was something she was sure of, since he already came back once after his breathing stopped. He had turned away from the light of Heaven, toward the sound of her voice, and breath found him again.

As much as she wanted him here with her, she didn’t want him suffering any longer.

“Take care of him, oh Lord,” she whispered to the moonlight.

“The next time you see the Lord’s hand, you take it,” she spoke softly into his ear. “It’s alright. You can go. I’ll be along soon enough.”

She felt him lightly squeeze her hand. His steady breathing began to become shallow, but the gently rise and fall of his chest stayed consistent.

“Remember,” she said, never letting go of his hand. “I love you, always.”


exert your power
your beauty
your restlessness
the sound of thunder echoes
in your rushing tide
the constant rumble
of a hundred earthquakes
exploding whitewash
like the frill of a woman’s dress
rushing toward the shore
the stampeding of a thousand horses
alters the landscape
an example of power
of beauty
in the gorgeous harshness of nature

Dear Military Wives…(Part III)

Dear Military Wives, 

I thought I’d be able to figure it out by now, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

It’s such a different lifestyle.

And I know it’s different for each individual too.

But here I am, once again, wondering how you do it.

That seems to be the common theme – trying to figure out how to live this military life.

To be perfectly honest…this life isn’t for me. Packing and moving every so many years is, well, for the birds, so to speak. Being told where to live and how to live my life is not something I’ve ever been okay with or a huge fan of…especially since it’s my life. Living in fear and constantly on edge that my husband will be taken away from me via a TDY or (even worse) a deployment is not a good feeling. (And that’s putting it mildly.) Nor is it good for my overall health. And living in fear that he won’t come back from said deployment is even worse. (I can’t even begin to describe those feelings.) I’ve never been completely comfortable enough to live life the way I want, for fear that getting too comfortable will only cause me to let my guard down and our life will be interrupted. Yet, at the same time, I know that’s no way to live.

I’ve uprooted my whole life, moved away from family and friends. My life seems to have no set schedule for writing or getting my work done. I’m constantly feeling off balance. I no longer have roots and some days…most days…it’s as if I don’t belong anywhere. (It’s incredibly difficult to make a place feel like home when you’re only going to be there for 1 to 4 years.) I rarely have time to do the things that used to always make me happy, that gave me some joy and release.

By now I’m sure the questions are flying. I’m sure you’re wondering why I ever agreed to this life if it was a life not meant for me.

The answer to that is simple.

It was either I chose a life with him (which would lead me to living a military lifestyle) or I chose a life without him. And a life without him was never even an option. So, I’ve sacrificed everything to be with him…so we could be together.

Don’t misunderstand me…I’m very proud of him and I’m proud of what he does. We love each other very much, but I have always felt as though I’ve sacrificed more because, in reality, his life would be the same with or without me – that military life.

And I know I’m lucky. I know I’ve had the opportunity to see and experience new things and new places. I’ve traveled cross-country, which a lot of people wish to do, but never actually do. Everything, all these things, even the things I haven’t mentioned, have inspired my writing and photography. I know in many ways I’m lucky, but…still…this military life is not for me.

So, how do you do it? How exactly do you live this life? I’m sure it’s not an exact science, but there must be some tip or hint or trick to it.

So, how do you do it? How do you live your life and not worry about being interrupted by TDYs or deployments. How do you not worry about what a TDY or deployment means? Or maybe that fear never goes away. Maybe that stressful, anxious, sickening feeling is just part of this life.

So, how do you do it?

I don’t know.

Right now, I just try to not think about certain things and put on a happy face. Right now, I’m trying to push all the negative aside and enjoy where we’re living while we’re here.

Sometimes it’s difficult.

Right now, I’m trying to soak it all in before I’m forced to move again. Right now, I’m trying to focus on doing the things that truly make me happy.

Sometimes it’s difficult.

Right now, I’m simply trying to live the best life I can the best I know how.

And I suppose that’s all any of us can ever truly do.


A Fellow Military Wife

To read Dear Military Wives…(Part II) please click here.

To read Dear Military Wives… please click here.


It’s hard to believe, on a day like this, that we just went through three or four weeks of constant rain and storms.

The sun is out now, shining brightly, warming the earth. If it wasn’t for the damage left behind you might never know we went through three or four rounds of torrential rain, high winds, flooding, high surf, huge waves, rising water levels, over flowing streams and river, sinkholes, landslides, mudslides, falling trees, power outages, and several other things brought on by these storms that I’ve probably not mentioned.

But…there is always a rainbow after every storm.

And this storm has passed.

So, I went out, down to the ocean, to see the damage left behind by these raging storms.

Turns out some of the smaller roads were closed. Some were flooded. Half of the coastal road that runs parallel to the ocean was closed. Along the coast it’s easy to tell where the ocean came up over the beach, over the rocks, and over seawalls, as the roads were covered with dirt and sand. Some of the houses closer to the ocean have tarps or plywood where windows should be. (They must have been blown out by the wind or smashed by debris. When the wind picked up it howled, almost screamed, it was so strong.) All the parking lots along the coast are currently closed. They are now sand lots from the rising ocean, riddled with cracks, potholes, and sinkholes. Some of the paths we used to walk along the coast have been washed out and are now also closed. Shrubs and smaller trees have been uprooted. Some of the taller, stronger trees have had their tops ripped off, but some of these larger trees also didn’t make it as they have been entirely uprooted too. In some places, where there used to be sand and a beach, there is now ocean. The water level is still so high that it covers some of the beaches we used to walk on. Then, of course, there’s high tide when the water level rises even higher. And the waves are some of the biggest and strongest I remember seeing. Ever. At some points along the coast they still crash against the seawalls and spill over the edge onto land.

As I stood by the ocean, up on a small cliff, I could feel the wind whipping and the spray of the sea. I wasn’t even standing that close, as there are many places that are roped off for safety reasons. The waves were simply that huge and the wind just that strong. I could feel the ocean spray on my face, smell the strong briny scent of the seam, and hear the waves rumbling like thunder or a locomotive barreling down the tracks as it rushed toward the shore. In it’s own way, it was beautiful.

Other places along the coast, as well as in land, were hit much harder than us. In some places they had to evacuate. Some places are underwater. Some beaches are completely gone. Piers and historic landmarks have been damaged or destroyed. Other areas were forced to close stretches of the road due to landslides, mudslides, rockslides, falling trees or because they simply were washed out.

But the storms are over now.

Yes, there is a mess left behind by these storms, but at least we can begin to clean up without worrying about more storms coming. The devastation in unlike anything I’ve ever seen and, in some areas, its surreal. It will take awhile to fix things, to have things back to ‘normal,’ if such a thing even exists in some places, but at least the storms are over.

At least the storms are over.

And there is always a rainbow after ever storm.

Lessons from Grandma

It’s been a year since Grandma passed.

But it feels longer.

I can still hear the sound of her laugh, that beautiful sound that would ring loud…and often.

And I long to hug her. Hugging her was like hugging a giant pillow, warm and soft.

Honestly, I just wish she was still here. For so many reasons, I wish she was here.

I wish I could tell her that I finally understand and see all the things she taught me and instilled in me, or was trying to, while I was growing up.

Grandma taught me things that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. She taught through the way she lived. She taught through her actions, sometimes serving up lessons on a silver platter that my youthful self didn’t even notice.

I remember, if it was a Sunday, she’s be up, fed, and dressed for Sunday morning church before anyone else. She’d come into my room, lean over the bed, and whisper my name. (And by whisper, I mean talked at a fairly high volume to make sure she was heard.) If I didn’t get up, in what she deemed an appropriate amount of time, she’d come back. This time she’d stand over the bed, pat my bottom, and say something along the lines of: “God’s done for you all week. You can spare an hour for him.”

Maybe that’s why my grandma never seemed to be worried about anything. I mean, I’m sure she had her worries – I know she did – but she didn’t seem to worry or stress like the rest of us. She didn’t worry or stress until she was sick or felt crazy about a situation she couldn’t change. And I think that was her faith. No, I know that was her faith. She had the strongest faith I’ve ever seen. It’s a faith I always admired…and still do.

Sometimes, now, I wonder if she really felt the need to worry or stress about life. She was so firm in her faith, always praying and knowing that God was with her.

And, I must say, I understand this greatly. Every time I talked to Grandma about something difficult or bad or some struggle in my life, she always offered the same advice the same thing – pray about it. And each time, in the end, in retrospect, things always worked out.

She was always smiling, always laughing. Sometimes she was silly, or would say something I found funny. She made me laugh. And I certainly made her laugh. It was an infectious laughter on both our parts.

I remember the holidays…and birthdays and conformations and anniversaries…and how my grandparents table was always full. My grandma would cook for days (or hours when she got older, or ordered multiple food platters when she got even older) and everyone was welcomed. They never had much for themselves, but she always shared what they did have with everyone (and somehow it was always enough, more than enough). So, their small house would be full of food and people, warmth and joy, and lots of talking and laughter.

There are so many things I remember, so many stories I could share. I see things differently now than I did while growing up. It all makes sense, so much sense.

So, here are some of the things she taught me (in no particular order):

  1. In any and all situations – pray about it. There’s power in pray.
  2. God is always with you.
  3. He answers prayers in His own time.
  4. Be kind to others, even if they aren’t kind to you.
  5. Help others.
  6. Love one another.
  7. Give.
  8. Faith and family are two of the most important things in life.
  9. Laugh.
  10. Live.

My grandma is one of the most beautiful people I ever knew – inside and out. This post doesn’t even begin to do justice to the woman she was and all she did for me. She was such a joy to be around, always lighting up whatever room she entered. Her life was so full. And she made my life full too. I miss her every day. But even though she’s gone, she’s still here. Now that I step back look, I mean really look, I see so much her inside of me. After all, I am my grandma’s granddaughter. And I can only hope to be half of the woman she was during her life.

2022 – A Year in Photos

This year has been a whirlwind, an up and down rollercoaster. It’s brought me across the country, from one coast to the other in a moving truck. I have photos from New York and New Jersey to Nevada and California and many state in between. There were times I didn’t have my camera on me and had to rely on my phone to document our journey. Actually, I mostly relied on my phone to capture the changing landscape as we (my husband and I) traveled from one state to the next, until reaching California. It’s been quite the adventure. My photography this year has consisted on capturing many different states (even if it was with my phone camera) as well as a mix of film and digital. So, without further delay here are some of my favorites from the year.

Ocean City, NJ

Ocean City, NJ

Ocean City, NJ

Ocean City, NJ

Ocean City, NJ

Monterey, CA

Monterey, CA

Monterey, CA

Monterey, CA

Monterey, CA

Point Pinos in Monterey, CA.

Tiny green worm on a yellow flower in Monterey, CA

Little bird in the bushes in Monterey, CA.

Monterey, CA

Monterey, CA

A Monarch butterfly in Monterey, CA.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero, CA.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero, CA.

Bixby Bridge (1932) in Big Sur, CA.

Big Sur, CA

Carmel, CA

Carmel, CA

To see more photos please visit my website.

The Christmas Season

It’s always a rush.

There’s always a list of a hundred things, or more, to do.

The focus always seems to be on the rush and getting those things we have to do done.

But where is the joy? Where is the warmth and relaxation? Where is the love and enjoyment of the simple things, the things that make the holidays, well, the holidays?

It was always there when we were children.

But it can’t be just children who feel the Christmas Spirit, right?


As children there are no holiday responsibilities. (Except to be good for Santa.) But as adults we have the added responsibility of preparing for Christmas. We must shop for presents and food, decorate, put up the Christmas tree, host a party with friends and family or attend such a party, and as exciting and lovely as all this might be…it’s also exhausting and, in a lot of ways, we lose sight of the true meaning of the Christmas season.

It’s easy to get swept up in the rush.

It’s easy to stress about all the little holiday details.

But in the end it’s not about the presents or the food or the decorations or the tree or the holiday rush. It’s about family and friends.

At least it is to me.

I remember how every Christmas would be filled with joy and warmth and laughter. It was filled with that indescribable holiday feeling that made you feel good and happy and thankful. It overflowed with Christmas magic.

So what does Christmas mean to you?

For me, it’s not about the rush or the gifts. It’s about sending Christmas cards – I love sending Christmas cards – and wishing those close a joyful holiday season. It’s about reflection, loved ones, connecting with friends and family, and remembering those who are no longer with us.

The Christmas season is a beautiful one, if only we allow ourselves to slow down and remember its true meaning.