Welcome back to Sunday Stills! I am pleased to be back to the blogosphere after my 6-week blogging break. Thank you to all who continued to share your photography with Cathy at Picture Retirement for the month of August and with Hugh at Hugh’s Views and News in September.

I’m sure you are dying to hear what I accomplished on my break. Aside from new inspiration for blogging and photos of new places, the month of August and the first weeks of September were a towering cluster of life events.

This week’s theme is “towering.” What towers over you, literally, like walls, mountains, or actual towers? Or is it figuratively, like huge goals or tasks set before you, that feel like mountains of stress, for example?

This week, I will share my journey over the last few weeks while on my blogging break. While I managed to sneak a peek at several blogs during this time, I was struck by just how busy I was.

Hang on while I summarize and tame the towering whirlwind.

A Tower of Boxes

Towering Boxes

From March to present, I have been packing…endlessly packing. In June-July-August, I packed at least one box a day. Our 10×10 storage unit is almost full of boxes and half of our furniture. This will be moved in mid-October.

In case you haven’t heard, we bought a property in Washington State north of Spokane, and are working on having a home built. The house should be ready by mid-December.

Towering Tufas and Mammoth Lakes

In late July, I took my second solo road trip to Mammoth Lakes, California, in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. I hadn’t seen my family since March, so it was a welcome reunion, meeting up with my daughter and boyfriend, and my brothers. In Mammoth Lakes, one popular attraction is the Devil’s Postpile (from another visit) that towers over us.

Visiting Devil's Postpile Mammoth Lakes

While staying in Mammoth Lakes, we drove an hour north to Mono Lake, which marks the entrance to Hwy 120 leading to the Tioga Pass entrance of Yosemite.

View of Mono Lake

We visited the area of the tufa towers, made of limestone and calcium deposits fed by ancient underwater springs, some towering as high as 30 feet, show the lakebed of Mono Lake.

Standing beside Mono Lake

In this next view, you can see how tall these tufa towers are. Hard to believe we walked on the exposed ancient lakebed.

Mono Lake Tufa Towers Perspective

Before LA’s department of water and power began diverting water from the nearby tributaries from 1941-1990, the saline lake was full. Years of dropping lake levels nearly destroyed the lake and fragile surrounding ecosphere.

image of Mono Lake's Tufa Towers

Though nothing but brine shrimp live in the lake’s waters, it feeds the millions of migratory birds. Due to the tireless efforts of the Mono Lake Committee, Mono Lake and the surrounding area are now protected as a California State natural reserve.

We finished our last day enjoying a few hours at one of the Mammoth Lakes where we took turns on my inflatable SUP…

SUPPING Mammoth Lakes

…then a drive back to the Hwy 120 amidst the towering peaks to the Tioga Pass entrance of Yosemite.

Tioga Pass Entrance Masked

Due to COVID, the NPS restricted automobile entry with permits reserved two months in advance. Though few people spend time in nearby Tuolumne Meadows, most people visit the popular tourist destination in Yosemite Valley. We had originally intended to spread my mom’s ashes in this area with the family under ordinary circumstances. We were able to get out of the car and walk around the meadows for a bit.

Overpowering Obligations

While in Mammoth, hubby calls to tell me he is scheduled for eye-surgery on August 6 to correct a detaching retina. Although it was outpatient laser surgery, I needed to stay home with him and was unable to take my pending week-long trip to San Diego to attend my mother’s delayed memorial service.

Due to fears of COVID, only my daughter, her boyfriend, and my brothers attended the service. Even though they sent me pictures and some video, the overwhelming guilt of this choice was hard to bear, but my family understood. I stayed home and packed.

And cried.

Unparalled Stress

Needless to say, August was the month of stress. My brother and his partner decided in late June they wanted to buy a home in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have been living in our family home off and on for several years. Once Mom passed, we considered selling the house, later, not sooner.

While this is going on, my hubby and I restructured our property loan to include the construction and the home itself. Have you ever bought or sold real estate? Have you ever done both in one month? Buying OR selling is stressful enough, let alone doing both. Between signing disclosures online, understanding inspection reports for Mom’s older home and everything in between, I lost sleep!

Let me put it this way…we signed papers with the mobile notary for our Spokane construction loan on August 10th and received the wire transfer for the sale of the family home later that afternoon.

Adding to the mix were hot temps, orange sunlight from wildfires (see next) and unending stress brought out the worst in me. I continually worry about what still must be packed and moved. I have lived here 32 years, so you know I have a LOT of things to pack. Hubby comes home every day after working outside in the heat and smoke only to spend 2-4 more hours working inside and outside our house. He’s painted, fixed floors and ceilings, rebuilt the backyard deck, installed appliances, cleaned up the backyard, etc.

Well, I still had a meltdown. This happened after the week we closed on the properties and the weekend of my Mom’s service. Thinking I was OK with everything, poor hubby comes home from work and I started in about how we need to hire some help to get the house ready for pre-inspection, we are running out of time, yada yada…I ranted and raved while he said nothing. How do men do that?

Turned out that I was NOT OK with missing my mom’s service and saying goodbye to my family home. Once I recognized why I was so angry and stressed, I grieved again and let it go. How will I deal with saying goodbye to my current home of almost 33 years in a few months? Sigh…

Towering Billows of Smoke

Wind turbines and towers

To make matters worse, August was not only the hottest month here in Northern California, but as many as 320+ wildfires broke out statewide. We were quite far away from them, but we were surrounded by smoke and falling ash, leaving us with days of unhealthy and hazardous air (as in “don’t go outside”) and temperatures topping 110 degrees. Another reason to wear a mask!

Pool Closed

On a positive note, we finally made it to the delta to enjoy some fresher air at the end of August and celebrate our 7-year wedding anniversary!


A Monumental Academic Task

In August I finalized my online university classes for Fall. The classes began the first week in September. The bridge across the river to campus is all but abandoned as students stay home this Fall.

Guy West Bridge at Sacramento State University

My course is easy to teach online because I have pre-recorded content from previous semesters. But what I love about teaching is engaging in the classroom, face-to-face. I don’t teach this class virtually using Zoom, but I could if needed. I recorded myself using a campus-approved video service…it is so weird to talk to a computer monitor staring at the corresponding slideshow. It’s confusing to know where to look!! I had some other trouble with some of the content and had to Zoom with IT to help me. As much as I enjoy and embrace technology, there are reasons I don’t utilize video.

The semester got off to a good start, however, and students seem enthusiastic so far.

Labor Day Weekend’s Overpowering Heat

Sunset over wind turbines

What was essentially our last weekend at the delta was some of the worst heat we have experienced. Try camping in your trailer with no hookups (read no electrical to power a fan) over night. This was necessary to be able to break down our structure which serves as a “garage” for our windsurf and paddle gear and equipment.

The AQI (air quality index) showed a ridiculous 200+, unhealthy for all. We endured, then gratefully drove home in our air-conditioned vehicles. The next week we pulled the trailer home under better circumstances.

Towering Travails on the Road Trip

I’m finishing this post as we take another road trip to pull the trailer to its new home in Spokane. Driving northbound on highway 5 through the Shasta and Dunsmuir mountain passes is an adventure in good weather. There would be no way to safely move the trailer in the winter.

However, driving the trailer home from our delta campground along the Hwy 5 proved to be a problem. We had noticed metal liner on the front of the trailer had pulled away slightly. Not worried too much we hooked up and headed the 60 miles home.

Hubby looked in the rear view mirror and noticed something odd so we pulled over to find the bottom half of the trailer exposed! That metal piece was hanging by a thread and would have torn off had he not stopped. He managed to manually screw in 5 screws to hold it together as vehicles flew by us at 80 mph shaking the trailer. It was beyond scary!

First thing Sunday morning, as hubby was hoisting the SUP and kayak onto the top of the truck, the darn kayak slipped and slid down the lumber rack and lopped off the side mirror of hubby’s truck! I held a flashlight while he (this time with his electric screw gun) cobbled the mirror housing back to the truck. Luckily the mirrors weren’t broken, and we were able to head out safely. We left the kayak home this time.

Several more deadly wildfires broke out in Oregon as we began our trip. There were no fires along the Hwy 97 through central Oregon, but the unbelievably smokey air from wildfires obscured the sun. The first leg to Bend, Oregon pulling the trailer took only 8 1/2 hours, instead of the usual 8. We camped in our other nephew’s driveway overnight and headed out early the next morning to Spokane to stay with hubby’s brother.

Aside from this, all seemed well until…

Our trailer got a flat tire! Another driver motioned us over frantically pointing to our trailer. We got out to see a shredded tire spinning uselessly next to the other tire. A trailer this size has dual tires, thankfully. Hubby fixed the flat and off we went looking for a tire store in which to buy another tire to use as a spare.

We finally made it to our destination in Spokane after another 8-hour drive. During the week, we dealt with a variety of items related to our home and property, including putting some things in storage and storing the trailer at our nephew’s home on his 10 acres in Spokane until we move there. He told my hubby that it would cost him a tri-tip a week!

Of note, both nephews are firefighters. Yes, they’ve been busy! My heartfelt thanks to those heroes who risk their lives every day under disastrous conditions.

It was fun to see the property although it was covered with towering weeds!


We met with our contractor and he outlined what he will be doing over the next two months. Despite all the towering troubles and uncertainty, these sure are exciting times!

For Sunday Stills this week, think about “towering” and its vast synonyms. For hints, I used a few in my headings. I am happy to be back to the blog and can’t wait to see what you do with this “towering” theme! Now you understand why I needed this break!

87 thoughts on “Sunday Stills: #Towering Turmoil

  1. Good grief and then some, Terry–I can’t believe all you’ve been through. Where do I start? Real estate is a pain–though I’ve never had a contract on land, always a house. I’m sorry about missing your mom’s memorial. That would break my heart also. Those choices are impossible. Someone was watching over you with your flat tire–or should I say shredded?

    I hope things calm down for you. I’ve been teaching online for years and love it. I do meet weekly with students and they seem to love it as much as I do. Good luck with your new classes!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Oh My God Terri, this one read like a frightening horror story!! That you can remain positive (and married LOL) after so many travails is incredible. I feel terrible for you about missing your mom’s service but you definitely did the right thing and she would understand completely. Hope hubby’s surgery was successful. He sounds like quite the guy – a keeper for sure! We went thru a much-less-stressful but similar experience when our home of 20 years sold within a week of listing it (we assumed it would take a year or two down here) and the week before we were leaving for 3 weeks in Scotland. We had to be out of the house and have any inspection issues (thankfully all minor) resolved before we left on our trip. Talk about frenzy! Then we moved into a rental for 6 months while we looked for our next home. We found it about 2 weeks before our non-renewable rental ran out. YIKES it was stressful so I can appreciate how difficult life is at the moment. Hang in there, I can assure you the stress will be quickly forgotten when you move into your new home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL, I should have saved this for Halloween 🎃. Everything ultimately had a good outcome, Tina. And holy cow to read your account of the quick sale of your former home!! Here in California, we may find ourselves in a fast sale situation. Hubby is very handy and we are racing to fix several things to list by the end of October. We will be ready to move out, but that will be for another post, lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It was good to hear from you and that your property escaped the fires in Eastern Washington. I have wonder how you doing as I read the reports of the fire.The last home lived was a town that was destroyed completely. Here in the Boise valley (Treasure Valley) the smoke dense. The last storm help to clear the area. Ihaho has two fires that are sending smoke again. Cambridge is burning North and East. Another fire has started in Southern Idaho in a lovely hat host endemic birds. Homes have been evatrated. Best wishes on your journey to your new home and retirement life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Cindy. Mom’s passing gets easier, but a daughter’s guilt still weighs heavily. I’m grateful for my health and the ability to get through all of this with some resilience and sanity, as well as with my blogging community!


      1. There are plenty of people who are far off worse than we are. Let’s try not to minimize what we have been through. It’s OK to relax and chill and cry. We need to go through our own emotions.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Welcome back, Terri, I missed you.
    Thank you for this catchup. Your warm writing style made me feel as we were sitting together chatting.
    i am so sorry about the passing of your mother, and that you missed being at her memorial IRL. But you were there fully in spirit and she knows that.
    Wishing you a smooth month ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Well, I hope you enjoyed your nice relaxing blogging break! Good grief, what a crazy time you’ve had, and during these already crazy times we’re all living through. The big positive to keep in mind is that this is all just for a relatively short time at the end of which you’ll emerge into smoother waters in the new place where you want to be. In the meantime, I hope things get easier and traumas end. Here’s my tranquil offering for the theme: https://grahamsisland.com/2020/09/20/the-golfball/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Terri, sometimes circumstances do have a way of ‘towering’ over us, don’t they? I admire the spirit with which you have rebounded from what sounds like a hellish few weeks. Malcolm had emergency retina surgery a few years ago so I know first hand how scary that can be. You absolutely made the only choice available. We’ve had a shi**y month, but nothing like yours; broken pool pump, broken washing machine, broken air conditioner. The inconvenience was minimal but the $$ added up pretty quickly. I am grateful for all the good stuff, but so over this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think everyone is experiencing something this year, Suzanne! Im glad to hear about Malcolm’s surgery and I bet he appreciates being able to see well now. All those broken appliance? Yikes! I suppose the countdown to year’s end is on! At least we have pretty pics to create and look at!


  7. Holy cow, Terri! You’ve been through so much… I’m not surprised that you had a meltdown… or two. Many of us are just writing off 2020 (and maybe 2021 also) so it sounds like you might want to also. Fortunately, after all the stress and worry, you’ll end up with a beautiful new home in a gorgeous area. Fingers crossed that you don’t run into too many additional challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Janis, yeah, 2020 is a mess isn’t it? I’m sitting here at the emergency vet for my little dog. Sigh…
      Things and prep are going well for the house. And the house we love in as Hans continues to work on it. All is well, thank you for the encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Terri,
    The trials and tribulations will only make you stronger. If you can endure a move and the construction of a new home, you will be ready for anything. At your prompting, we got a permit to enter Yosemite, but the fires cancelled everything. Next, we got to Bonelli Bluffs, near Pomona, for Labor Day, and the temps hit 115 degrees and we watched the smoke rise from the San Bernardino fire. We got out of there and went to Vegas for R&R. Glad to have you back. Oh, wine helps! Joe

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You sure had a challenging six-week “break”, Terri. I’m so sorry you couldn’t attend your mother’s memorial service and say goodbye to your childhood home in person. Tough events to move on from. 😦

    But, you accomplished heaps of things this summer. And, I don’t know how you do the online teaching while you are on a road trip to Spokane and there for a week. While I usually manage to combine work and RV living, teaching at set times is a different ballgame!

    I have no idea what “a tri-tip a week” means. Is that meat? Wishing you a productive time in WA and a smooth (much smoother) return trip to CA!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Liesbet! We are back in somewhat smokey California and we got quite a bit done in Spokane. For my class, I don’t have to teach at a set time, since lectures were pre-recorded. October should be another busy month. Tri-tip is a cut of beef that Hans is well known for cooking! I doubt that Josh will collect but we are grateful to be able to store the trailer on his property.


  10. Dear friend, I think I was holding my breath all the way through this post. My goodness, was a struggle this past month has been. I am so sorry you were unable to attend your mother’s service. I would like to think she knew you were thinking of her, though.

    The fires are just devastating. Hundreds of miles away, we are seeing smoke here in El Paso. What a horrific year this has been.

    Your photos of towers are thought-provoking and inspiring. Towering weeds!! Had never heard of tufa. Reminds me of silly sand – kinetic sand that I bought my granddaughter to play with. My favorite photo is the one with the electrical towers and the billowing clouds of smoke in the background. Heart-wrenching beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leslie! That smoke was even seen in Europe! We are grateful that we weren’t affected by road closures, although we drove right by the fire area along the road in Southern Oregon. All in all, our goals were accomplished and we continue to be grateful!


  11. Hi Terri, Welcome back home (for a while). You have had turmoil on top of turmoil. You tell it without any whine in your words. Someone said they felt like you were chatting. I feel that way, too. I can picture you sitting at my table telling this story and sharing your pictures. I am so sorry about your mother. That is such a hard time, and you probably haven’t had much opportunity to process it in all your busyness. I hope you get a few moments to relax and I hope your move goes smoothly. We sold my sister-in-law’s house in one day. Fortunately she moved in with us, but we are definitely looking towards Prescott for the three of us. Her new home should close in about a week. 🙂 Here is my turmoil for the week. LOL https://tchistorygal.net/2020/09/20/inspiration-hope-and-courage-in-the-heat-of-turmoil/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marsha, to write it all down was cathartic and I’m glad I didn’t sound ungrateful! So many others have lost everything from the fires and Covid and my travails are minor compared to what 2020 has thrown our way. We are prepping for the next trip north which will involve a moving truck and clearing out much of the house and storage unit. I enjoy planning all these logistics, plus I chose all my home decor colors, paint, counteracts, etc last week! Phone chat soon, I promise!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love your house. You are going to a beautiful place. We are not going to move the things ourselves. (One of the benefits of age, I guess.) I’m not as into logistics as you are. Hubby does a lot of that. I clean up behind him. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. What a stressful time you have had, poor Terri – the terrible stress of moving and buying a new home, then your husband being ill and not being able to attend your Mum’s service. What a heartbreaking choice, but there was nothing else you could do. Perhaps in a year or two, when Covid is over, you could have a family get-together to remember your mother. Sending loving hugs to you, Toni x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Terri, I’m glad you both got through what happened during your blogging break. Just the buying and selling of homes is enough to push many of us over the edge, but you also had to deal with much more. Sorry to hear about everything you’ve been through. However, it’s good to hear that you’re on track to move into your new home in December.
    I hope the heat, wildfires and air quality all break soon. When it all comes at the same time, it must be very worrying. Plus, of course, you had the matter of COVID-19 also to deal with.
    Good luck with the continuing journey to the completion of your new home. Exciting times are ahead, plus a new chapter is unfolding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hugh, what is weird is I planned the break to prep for school and take a couple of road trips. Everything else happened during that time or just before. Life events do happen, but I prefer mine more spread out 😁 Hans can’t wait to get moved up there, he’s ready to go now! Thank for your concern and again for hosting SS the last two weeks!


      1. I don’t blame him wanting to go now, Terri. New adventures await. I’m pleased his surgery went well.
        Life has a habit of throwing extra bits at us when we have other things planned. We’ve moved house no less than seven times in the last 27 years. However, we’re now settled and loving where we live.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. WOW! Jut wow Terri! I have no words, so much to deal with in short time. I did see some some of your beautiful photos from Mammoth Lake and surrounding areas. I love it there! I pray for some smooth sails towards your new chapter now, you deserve that!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh Terri, your time off sounds very tumultuous and I feel for you. I do hope you are feeling more settled by now. Welcome back by the way!

    I enjoyed joining in with Cathy and Hugh during your break, so many thanks to them for filling in for you.

    I just wonder if you had all that in mind when you set the Towering theme? Perhaps not! I have taken it quite literally and shared some photos from my archives. It was a good trip down memory lane for me 🙂

    Take care Terri!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Debbie, thanks for the welcome back! I missed folks! I was so appreciative of Cathy and Hugh for hosting on my break, And no, I had not planned that post. In July after my trip to Mammoth Lakes area and our visit to Mono Lake, those tufa towers were my original inspiration. Then August & September hit and with them all the craziness. Of course I had fun with the headings. Great to have you back, Debbie and I’m looking forward to reading your post!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Oh my goodness Terri. Tumultous to say the least. I feel for you. I know that feeling of having a difficult time of detaching from one special home I once had. Ten years have gone by and 3 more homes later, when I think of that one home it still touches me like no other. Eventually, we keep it in a special place in our hearts ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Debbie. You are so right! I never thought we would leave the house…once you get it the way we want it, why move? These moves have been hardest on my youngest daughter who essentially was born in this house. She also lost her grandma’s house (the one we sold). It was heartbreaking for her to tell me she couldn’t lose her two family homes in one year. She took a pic of my brother hugging the wall of the house before they drove away forever. I cried when I saw it. I will miss my little house but I know another family will love it. We are ready for our new, custom home in the mountains!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Terri, it was so nice to read your update. I have been wondering about you with the fires and the move. Our good friends evacuated from Phoneix, Oregon and have been sending pictures. It is just devastating. I pray that your nephews and all the other fire fighters stay safe!
    I am so sorry that you missed your mother’s memorial. I also know that a detached retina is not joke. What else will 2020 bring? I can certainly see that you have had enough for one year!
    I’m glad your class is going well. Mine is going well also, though today I was notified of my first student with Covid. All my students are teachers, so I expect that many more of them will eventually get it. If ever there was a time to be flexible, this is it!
    I hope that your upcoming weeks will be much less eventful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So nice to hear from you, Michele! What would our lives be if not for some bumps (or flat tires) along the way? It’s an adventure despite all the planning, and we just keep on truckin to use an old 70s term. Our university has several covid policies in place for students to catch up if afflicted. Flexibility indeed. Thank you for your kind words!


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