Monday, December 22, 2008

Finding Faith and Common Ground The Best That They Were Able

I made my way back from my longest road trip with me at the wheel - for thirty-two years, my road trips have involved me sleeping in the passenger seat while my "driver" deals with the traffic. After the training in Sac, I headed south to Hollister to spend some pre-holiday with my sister and her family. I listened to my iPod and sang at the top of my lungs for over 700 miles, Christmas songs interspersed with my regular mix. Somewhere around Laytonville, in the dark and the rain, Dar Williams came on. It was fitting since it was Solstice and, as always, this song made me tear up. Not sure why except that the sentiments are amazing. So, if you've never heard her do "The Christians and the Pagans", consider this my gift to you - the lyrics are below. A late Happy Solstice and a Happy Merry Christmahannakwanzakhah to all, and to all a good night:

Amber called her uncle, said "we're up here for the holiday
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay."
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three
He told his niece, "It's Christmas Eve, I know our life is not your style."
She said "Christmas is like Solstice and we miss you and it's been a while."

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And just before the meal was served hands were held and prayers were said
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said "is it true that you're a witch ?"
His mom jumped up and said "the pies are burning" and she hit the kitchen
And it was Jane who spoke, she said "it's true your cousin's not a Christian
But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share
And you find magic from your God and we find magic everywhere."

so the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
And where does magic come from ? I think magic's in the learning
Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said "really, no don't bother"
Amber's uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father
He thought about his brother, how they hadn't spoken in a year
He thought he'd call him up and say "it's Christmas and your daughter's here"
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve
Saying "can I be a pagan ?" Dad said "we'll discuss it when they leave"

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old
And making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

These are a Few of My Favorite Things...

Mom's winter adventure has been a road trip in the aftermath of our seasonal "hard freeze". Driving to Sacramento via Highway 20, I encountered the white stuff pretty solid from the Peg House to Laytonville where it mostly dissipated except for those sucky little shady spots. My lowrider xB and I survived however and I'm sitting comfortable in my motel room thinking I need to take one more stab at the scrooges.
Our Christmas tree is up and decorated with our odd conglomeration of family ornaments. Many are homemade, like this one. I believe this is Mark's masterpiece. When we were first married and living in South Carolina, we was broke. No ornaments for the free tree we scrounged from a tree lot the day before Christmas so we made some out of salt dough. Most have not survived the years but I'm glad his elfen dude made it.

This one was made by Gloria in kindergarten. My guess is there are hundreds of children who strung wooden beads as a "pattern" project in Jane Nelson's kindergarten class at Marshall Elementary. Glo assures me it was HARD to stuff the yarn into the bead holes. Similarly, Hope stitched buttons on the felt tree in Jennifer Sanders' Second grade class at Marshall.

Other ornaments on our tree are mementos. This little Minnie was bought at Disneyland on a trip we made when Monica was five.

The little Girl Scout was purchased in Savannah, when Hope and I made a trip with our Girl Scout troop - a very special pilgrimage to Juliette Lowe's Birthplace.

During the holidays, I see theme trees and trees decorated to match the home decor. They're all so pretty but, at our house, decorating the tree is a chance to reminisce as we hang our ornaments where they can best be admired. The girls each have personal ornaments (Hope and I each got a Girl Scout in Savannah) that will move with them. Monica has hers and her sisters will someday take their ornaments to new homes so that their pasts can be included in their futures.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

All apologies to my scroogie blogger friends but....we like Christmas in our neck of the woods. I have decided to tone down my decor, this year, opting for an understated white and silver motif that would thrill Martha no end. The decorating in the house has always started at Halloween, morphs through Thanksgiving then goes to full-on, wrap the banisters and (as my friend Sandi at Cheaper than Therapy calls it) vomit Christmas all over the house. Unfortunately clutter, even Christmas clutter, makes me crazy these days so I think the toning down will make for a more relaxed holiday. We have brought out the Christmas music (sorry, Eko and all) and we have stacks of CDs....everything from Perry Como to the Backstreet Boys. We love to singalong with John Denver and the Muppets and, man, the girls LOVE the Al Green Christmas CD. We have pulled up the Christmas playlists on our iPods and bump the holidays wherever we go. Hope and I hit the craft fairs last weekend and Mark and I have been checking out lights in area neighborhoods. I am not done with my shopping and I'm sure some packages will barely make it to their intended recipients on time.

We put up outside lights but try to avoid making our house visible from space. We do just enough to be sure Santa finds us. This year, we switched over to LEDS so Mark has been working his little fingers to the bone with an idea he's been cooking up for the last ten years. He has installed the lights in PVC, cut to fit the roofline. Drilling holes for the bulbs and tucking the wire inside a slit run lengthwise. He has hooks on the house and eyebolts in the pipe to hang it all up in one easy step. Understand that my spouse is short and my house is not -- so getting up on the ladder to hang lights two stories up is not one of his favorite activities. This will make it so easy, it will be tough for Andy Butch to beat him again, being the first in the neighborhood to hang lights. On our street, this is not a size competition but speed only. More importantly, taking them down after New Years will require only a small window of fair weather.

So, we shall deck our halls and shove a tree up Angie;s skirt. We will drink nog, make batches of cookies and maybe make our own cards to send to friends. We will also be terribly relieved when we make it to December 25th with our minds intact.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Want to Thank You...

For a change, I returned to work after a holiday feeling well-rested. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday - all of the family without the drama of Christmas. We did miss my siblings and the "kin" and decided we were due for a trek to Coeur d'Alene . Maybe next year but for now, I am thankful for my little family - Mark and our three beautiful daughters. I'm grateful for traditions and, in my family that means a Thanksgiving hike. I recall the walks in Henry Cowell State Park when I was little, with family and friends that varied from year to year. The smell of the redwoods, the feel of a banana slug when we dared touch it. The aroma l of the turkey roasting (when the oven timer was set correctly) when we walked through the door. The fight for the showers when we knew we had ventured too near the poison oak.
In our family, we have added a mid-hike snack and photo break. The food pack seldom varies: Ritz crackers, oranges (preferably mandarins) and (ugh!) Easy Cheese. Yes, that nasty stuff in the can that they SAY is real cheese. Once a year, I am required to buy it to appease the crowd. Any guest (there is always at least one) is included in our family photo, an expected addition to our Christmas card. Also required, training the guest in the "thinking pose" - I think he's got it! Devil Dog (Vince) seems entranced with the blinking light on my camera timer.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I finally got out on the water again today, a freakishly beautiful November afternoon. The tide was nearly finished its flooding so the water was high in Eureka Slough as I headed up from the bay. Passing under the old railroad track west of 101 ... duck! Maybe Eko or one of the other "old timers" can tell me what building I passed? I think it was maybe 1st and X Streets, behind Target. It says "NMPCo" and "1904" on it. I paddled up the slough nearly to Murray Field then decided it was time to get back and get dinner started. I got a little help from the tide as I paddled back to the bay. The water was clear enough for a good reflection of the freeway. A little sun on my skin. A little excitement, riding the wakes of a couple of jet-skis. All in all, another beautiful day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Hope and I took Vince for a run on the beach today. Humboldt was out in force, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.
The water looked oddly thick, like cold lava that rolled up the beach, wrapping our ankles with November chill.Vince apparently had plans to be elsewhere. China perhaps?
A girl, her pooch and his poop. We clean up after ourselves.
UPDATE: A gratuitous after photo for ya, CPR.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Upon reflection, I realized that my "Seven Secrets" were really a bummer. One should never do things like that when one is feeling too....reflective. I'm calling a REDO:

1. I want to collect shells on beaches around the world. I want to walk on all the beaches but REALLY want a boatload of really unusual shells. Like Bruce Brown's classic surf documentary, "Endless Summer", I want to travel to the sand and waves around the world...I'll just leave the surfing to Jen.

2. I got married a month after I graduated high school and a month before turning 18. Monica is 28 so do the math...I wasn't' knocked up. We drove across country in a 72 Dodge van towing my car, a red 55 Chevy named Paco that we built -- Mark was supposed to work for his Dad in Camden, South Carolina. We had no phone so communicated by CB (hey, it was the 70's). Neither the job nor the dad-relationship worked out but we were stuck until we could sell the car and trailer for money to get back to Santa Cruz. We brought home three kittens. It was really a great bonding experience for newlyweds, seeing the world together.

3. I have a fear about the genetics of Alzheimer's. My mom got it and while the early stages seemed humorous, there is nothing funny about visiting your mom and not having her recognize you. I pray they find a cure before long though I suspect my kids think it's too late for me.

4. I started smoking in high school to fit in with the cool kids. When a girl came up to me in the smokers lot at school and said...."Wow, I didn't know you smoke", I felt SO cool. Funny that I always hated the smell on my hands and my breath. I couldn't smoke when it was hot. I didn't smoke for long and have developed a total intolerance of the habit. I hate smelling the smoke when the driver of a car ahead of me has their smoke billowing from the window. Or smoke and coffee breath...gag!

5. I realized I spent an inordinate amount of my high school time in a lip-lock. Nothing naughty. No second base. No heavy (or light) petting. Just lip-chapping makin' out. Guy friends that needed to polish their skills always seemed in good supply. I was shocked to realize that there were prehistoric scenes in the Cave Train. Who knew? I wasn't watching. Let's say that practice makes perfect. You'll have to ask Mark if I was a good student.

6. After years of riding behind Mark on a motorcycle, I finally learned to ride for myself shortly before I turned 40. I took the Motorcycle Safety Course and had a Sportster that I put quite a lot of miles on, many with kids behind me. Our first big trip with Hope and Gloria was to Coos Bay. Gloria was four and a half, Hope was what? Seven? Eight? Glo rode behind Mark so I could keep an eye on her from my bike. She liked to flap her arms and legs like a bird to keep busy. Hope rode with me. She liked to play tic-tac-toe on the back of my coat.

7. I standing by Meatloaf as a sexual being. I can't explain it. Don't really want to think about it because he truly doesn't do much for me but THAT video with the whole baseball theme being called in the background -- lets just say it brings back some warm memories for me.

There. Much less pathetic. No sticky tape issues.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I was tagged by Miss Monica, challenged to confess seven personality quirks.....I had problem whittling them down to seven:

1. I am totally intolerant of bullies in any form. I was picked on in school, often by girls who were my “friends”. Psychoanalyzing myself, I’m sure that this is the reason I feel so strongly about Proposition 8….I see bullies in big gangs throwing lots of money to force others to comply with their way of thinking. I hate that!

2. I’m a lazy learner….a B student who learned just enough to get by but not so much to take the fun out of it. I still do it. I love to learn, I'm just not particularly thorough. I read the first few paragraphs of newspaper articles. I read the owners manual of an appliance or electronic devise just until I can make it work….then I spent forever fighting with whatever it is to figure out why it keeps doing that! Maybe if I read the whole manual…….

3. I once wanted to be a vet assistant. I never really wanted to be a vet because I didn’t think I could perform surgery but I wanted to help. I also thought I wanted to be a pharmacist after working with the hospital drug pusher when I was a Candy Striper. Would I have been able to tackle the school work required of either (see #2 above)? Maybe not. I also considered being a private detective. I wanted to do surveillance but not the cheater kind. I didn’t want to carry a gun and be Magnum but I wanted to do the investigating. I love Google. I wanted to track down missing people and information. Oh, and like Monica, I would have been an awesome backup singer. My voice isn’t good enough to hold its own but I think I have something to offer as a do-wop girl.

4. I probably got married too young. By attaching myself to another human being when I was barely out of high school, I didn’t give my chance to explore myself. I’ve not made time to maintain close friends because I thought it was important to make my marriage a priority. This is a good plan but I suspect better practiced when outside relationships have also been fostered. I am comfortable doing things by myself when necessary but I would have more adventures if I had a friend or two to share them when my spouse had no interest. I do miss having buddies. These were my decisions made happily but I sometimes wonder who I would have been left to my own devices. Maybe I'd have enough people to tag with this challenge...

5. Liver & Onions tops my guilty pleasures list. Actually, I feel guilty only because my family is horrified by the smell. When I would go to Santa Cruz to visit my folks, we’d head to Shopper’s Corner where my mommy would buy calves liver, thickly sliced. I occasionally get to eat it at a diner or when the family leaves me to myself on a Saturday when I can keep the door open to air out the house.

6. Storms intrigue me, which won’t surprise anyone who reads my blog. I love the power of wind and rain. I have this fantasy about being at ground zero during a hurricane or a tsunami. I KNOW it’s foolish. I KNOW it’s crazy. I'd love to lash myself to a tree like they did on Gilligan's Island. In my fantasy, I have a crappy disposable camera, because even when tempting fate I wouldn’t want to ruin my good camera …. I have written my name on the camera. When that big wave comes in (because, in my fantasy, a tidal wave is really an enormous wave rather than the surge we’ve learned it is), I am standing at the shore, camera at the ready, getting that last really awesome picture just before being consumed. Someday, when that camera is unearthed by archaeologists, they will hold me in awe. “Not sure who she was but she got an awesome picture of the big one”.

7. My favorite rockers were Elton John (he doesn’t like girls much) and Billy Joel (he has issues but is a great storyteller) but the guy that I think is hot? David Cassidy? Nope. Gene Simmons? Nope and yuk (sorry Sandi). Meatloaf….yep, Marvin Lee Aday…Meatloaf. I have NO earthly clue why that big sweaty guy can make me tingle….he’s not sexy as much as sexual. Oh come on…have you ever seen him do “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” on stage with Karla DeVito? Maybe it was the flashbacks to the steamy window wrestling matches …… I don’t know but, dang…..”Stop right now…before you go any further….”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


This morning, we awoke to the promise of hope .... a change in the color scheme of our government. Then we read deeper into the election results and were sad when we realized that a part of our population would still not be able to stand in their house of worship, with their friends and family and commit to the one they love by getting married. They will still be together. They will raise their children with love and kindness, as they have done all along. They will call themselves Family in spite of the vote. But separate is not equal.

This morning another group smiled. They polished the little chrome fish they have stuck on their car. On Sunday, they will greet their friends in worship. They will sing songs of praise for they will know the sanctity of their "traditional" marriage, even the second and third marriages, has been preserved. They have won another round against the evil homosexuals. And they shall call themselves Christian.

To those directly affected by the passage of Proposition 8, I’m sorry. Sorry we couldn’t do more - we couldn’t do enough to fight the inaccuracies placed before the voters. My family will continue to support your right to marry and someday, you will. We have a new president. It is a historic time. We shall overcome.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


As we left the polling place this morning, having dumped an appropriate amount of black ink on the NO box for Proposition 8, a big fat juicy rainbow hangs in the sky. Nice ... very prophetic. Glo is in the driver's seat and says "Ha! Take THAT Mormons". Gotta love teenagers!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


It was mentioned recently that an acquaintance, a professional black man, is decidedly on the side of God and in full support of Proposition 8. This was not really a surprise since he flies the Christian flag on his car and all other quadrants. I couldn't help but see it as odd, though, since "his people" had been treated so poorly in the not-so-distant past.

Last night on the drive home, I had sudden recall - his wife is as white as he is black. Not so long ago, he would have been lynched. It too was deemed "against nature". Ironic or simply hypocritical?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


If you are voting Yes on Proposition 8, this blog is not for you. The version of Christianity to which you subscribe is different from mine. Your church that "hates the sin, not the sinner" and promotes marriage for some but not for others, is not one I can understand. At this point, you can move along.

For those of you who are uneasy...unsure... not comfortable with Proposition 8, because deep down, you don't feel right about placing a barrier placed between certain people, I hope you will consider a NO vote. I hope you will recognize the inequality. I hope you will see the parallels between these barriers and the ones that forced black people to sit in the back of the bus and those that prevented women from voting.

You don't need to approve. You don't have to be comfortable or tolerant. You don't have to because it does not involve you. It does not affect you. How can it be wrong to marry the person you love and raise a family in love? can it be a bad thing? How can we prevent it?

P.S. Thanks to Joe over at Eureka POZ for pointing out the WRITE TO MARRY opportunity. There are a bunch of great blog posts listed if you click on the logo.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Feel when I dance with you,
We move like the sea.
You, you're all I want to know.
I feel free.

It's amazing how often the right song comes on at the right time. I thought Bobby Darrin had it nailed with Somewhere Beyond the Sea then, next on the iPod comes Cream. Very awesome soundtrack to my afternoon and solo paddle #2.

That's right, I played hooky. A perfect sunny autumn afternoon is made even better when the rest of the world is working as I should have been but, instead, I took a few hours of annual leave. A day like this is a terrible thing to waste. I even ditched weight training though maybe I will be forgiven since I had to hoist my kayak on to my car twice and carry it back and forth a few more. That's gotta be worth a few reps, right? I had planned on paddling around the waterfront since I don't have much experience anywhere else but on the way home I cruised past the launch ramp at Fields Landing and realized that it was far quieter than Samoa was likely to be. After I launched, I headed south and came across the Frances. Her captain told me they were stuck in the mud. Patience, Grasshopper. He did wait patiently (what choice did he have?) while his wife and child wandered along the mud flats. By the time I came back around, the tide had risen adequately to float them free and they were gone.I pushed along, stroking quietly so as not to disturb the birds then allowed the kayak to drift with only the distant sound of the waves crashing and the drip drip drip of the water falling from my paddle. I watched a pelican dive for dinner but, when I heard a loud splash behind me, I saw no sign of the pelican. I turned the kayak around and drifted a bit more and heard another splash, then another. Turns out my solo paddle wasn't exactly solo. I had company from this little dude and a couple of his buddies who, I believe were screwing with me, splashing when I wasn't looking. Fine with me as long as they didn't pop up next to me. So I continued around the area, never venturing too far from shore because I'm still a little uneasy out there alone but, at the same time, alone was perfect. Relaxing my mind while venturing further out of my rut. The bright sun reflected on the ripples that were beginning to gather as the tide flowed in to fill the bay. I paddled back to shore, quite pleased with myself.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The poopy autumn weather touched my inner wimp and kept me indoors. Hardly freezing but cold enough that I couldn't convince myself to head out on the water. It made for perfect pie-bakin' weather, though.

I gathered up my bag o'apples - I can't say I necessarily agree with Clif Clendenen's politics or personal beliefs but the man grows a fine apple. I picked these up at the Co-op, a variety of Clif's best. I rolled out my crust - just a plain crust with a little bark and twigs added (actually sesame seeds and flaxmeal) for texture. Then I pulled out my all-time favorite kitchen gadget, the .... apple peeler-corer-slicer-thingie. When we lived in Nevada and autumn meant a family road trip to Apple Hill near Placerville, I saw one of these demonstrated at a farm and HAD to have it. It was the best purchase ever. Makes quick work out of preparing for apple pie. The only downside to it is its distaste for misshapen apples. If you've a wonky fruit, it has some difficulty with the balance thing. so I just choose carefully when shopping for pie fruit. The kids don't even mind helping when they get to use this. And the hens think the peels are worms so everyone's happy!
I sliced up the apples, tossed them with the cinnamon and lemon juice, adding a little fresh nutmeg and ginger and heaped them into the crust. I wasn't in the mood for a fussy edge so just threw the edges over the top.
I think last night Rice Krispie treats are a lovely balance to this still life. Anyone for a la mode?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


The wispy threads drape across my path...across my face. They block the way to the car by spinning their webs in the night between the rosemary plant and my car's mirror. They dare us to enter the garage through the barricade they've strung across the doorway. They taunt the letter carrier by stringing their traps near our mail slot. I'm often forced to destroy their artwork, waving a stick or dried stalk of hollyhock, as if performing incantations. Pumpkins Spiders are good mojo. Nature's Halloween decorations. They eat bugs but DANGIT I hate it when they end up in my hair.

They are just one of the harbingers of autumn along with pumpkins at the market and apples arriving to take the place of the summer's zucchini abundance. I gladly accept even the homeliest of apples from Mark's customers. This week I filled the crockpot at night and awoke to the heavenly smell of applesauce. I suspect there will be apple pie for Sunday dinner. I do love autumn.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Am I the only one that hates jingles? Jingles drive me NUTS! I'm that I would avoid a business that had a jingle for fear my business may encourage them. I'm so grateful that Mark is handy and I have never needed the services of a certain plumbing company and I don't mind cleaning so I can do anything that's "got to be done". I'm double glad I don't have an RV or double-wide with repair needs which might force me to use the local shop with the TV ads using camo-clad line dancers, including chicks in "daisy dukes" and aviator shades. I get that damn song stuck in my head. But I wonder.... am I the only one that feels that way? Are the rest of you out there hoping against hope that your favorite fueling station will start an jingle ad campaign that will remind you to fill up? Or your coffee-pusher will sing a song of mocha to draw you in for your morning fix? There must be someone out there that thinks this is a good idea or they wouldn't create them... or would they?

My sincere apologies if this is your line of work. I don't blame you...truly I don't. I blame the business owners who are convinced that getting a song stuck in our head like the Ivory Liquid or Alka-Selzer ads of old will be lucrative but we've progressed, people. We have 300 cable channels, not just the two or three we had in the sixties. We have countless radio stations. We have the internet -- we have choices. Have some dignity. Please save me from the jingles.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I get very content in my boxes. And stepping outside the proverbial box isn't easy. Not impossible but not easy. Taking an intro kayaking lesson at Paddlefest two years ago was one of those times that I dabbed a toe outside my comfort zone. Then wading further into the abyss, I took another lesson with Hawk at Humboats. I took a couple demos with Greg at ProSport. I took a few classes with Marna from Kayak Zak's, including my own personal prerequisite, Rescue and Recovery class (I thought it best to know for sure I could get myself back on board should I somehow fall out). I spent a Saturday afternoon falling out and getting back in a kayak, using a variety of methods before I was convinced I was ready to purchase my own vessel. A couple of weeks ago, I finally bought a Kestral 140 in highly visible Mango yellow. With a bit of engineering, I was finally able to transport the beast on the roof of my xB and decided that Paddlefest was the perfect opportunity for the virgin voyage. Stepping out of the aforementioned comfort zone generally comes with butterflies. This time, butterflies were non-existent. Instead there were Tasmanian devils whirling my morning mocha into a froth. We got the kayak on the roof, strapped on and tied down and off I went to the launch ramp. I knew I could do it but was afraid I couldn't. I had intended to join in a 10:00 tour of the bay and Eureka Slough so had the incentive of a schedule to goad me along. I loaded safety gear, donned wetsuit and personal floatation device and was on the water by 9:55. Couldn't find the group tour anywhere. I hadn't really paid much mind to the location, presuming it would be an obvious gathering of kayaks but, alas, I was mistaken. So, I took a two-hour tour by myself.

With some effort, I paddled against the incoming tide around Woodley Island watching all the while for the promised boat parade and Blessing of the Fleet scheduled for the Maritime Expo. How did I miss an entire parade? I was REALLY looking to get some fallout from that blessing. But I did have fun exploring those quiet corners of the Bay. Sneaking a photo of an egret was not so easy. I'd pull my camera from it's little waterproof box, get it focused right about the time the current would turn me away from my quarry. I'd set the camera in my lap, steer the bow back around just in time for the damn bird to fly off. *sigh* I WILL get better at this.
I pulled out of the water about noon and called Hope, who had planned to come down and demo a kayak or two. When it turned out she was uneasy being out there alone, I put back in and joined her on the water.

So I've done it. I loaded. I unloaded. I put in, took out and loaded up again. By. My. Self. YES! I say to heck with the box. I have successfully built a staircase out of my rut.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bus Stop, Bus Stop

The chill of autumn is beginning to show itself in the mornings. Not too bad yet but it’s coming. Kids will be walking to school, dressed in shorts, no coat. God forbid an umbrella. It got me thinking about riding the school bus and the long walk to the bus stop when I was in kindergarten.

We lived in a little neighborhood in the unincorporated part of Santa Cruz, in Live Oak. We moved into the first house on a brand new street when I was five; the bus stop was at “the little store”, Lucky 7 Market about a quarter-mile away. The store was owned by a family whose daughter, another Debbie, would be my bestest friend all through our school years.

I remember that treacherous walk well and the few times I had to be rescued. Generally, I would make my way alone, no iPod to keep me company. On rainy days, I would share an umbrella with this “big girl”. She was probably in high school. I want to think her name was Ellen though that may just be because, in my memory, she resembles one of my sister’s friends by the same name. She was walking to the stop from a side street and on rainy days would pick me up in her arms so I could keep dry with her under the umbrella. Can you imagine now, if our young child came home with that story: “she picked me up, Mommy, and I got to be under her umbrella all the way to the bus stop”. Oy! Did I seem like I needed taking care of? Oh, who am I kidding? Look at this picture. I was adorable.

I do recall requiring a few rescues over the year. The Francis’ had chickens. More importantly, they had roosters. Occasionally those big Reds would meander out the driveway and would be pecking gravel at the edge of the road; the very road I would have to walk. Those roosters, at least to my 5-year-old eye, were HUGE and terrifying. I recall starting to walk by the yard on the far far far side of the road but the birds looked at me. They clucked at me. I was scared to death and quite sure they were going to get me. So I did what any kid would do – I ran back home. Just as I got there, I’m sure babbling about killer chickens, Randy, the Meadow Gold milkman was making his morning delivery. He offered me a ride IN THE MILK TRUCK. That was the coolest thing. I remember standing up on the passenger side. I may have been sitting but I don’t think so. Probably no passenger seat and probably had the door wide open on that side. Again, can you imagine a parent allowing this today?

Another time I was rescued by Randy was when the Portilla’s dog was watching me. Their house was set back, well off the road but they had a big picture window and a really huge grey Great Dane….with red eyes that glowed! You shut up! They did TOO. Scared me half to death and, even though the house was halfway to the bus stop, I ran all the way home and was, again, rescued by the milk man.

Trying to share this store with my kids is ludicrous. Who allows a five-year-old to walk alone to school? Who allows a child to ride with the milk man. What the heck is a milk man?!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


We came and we really missed those of you that didn't make it. After being "outed" by Nathan Rushton in the morning's ER we felt sure we'd be inundated by the paparazzi such luck.
We were most humbled by the appearance of Capt'n Buhne, formerly of the Buhne Tribune who watched unsuccessfully for the arrival of Heraldo (as did we all). Food was in abundance. Ekovox was true to his word and brought the canned brown bread as well as pickled pig's feet and Moon Pies! There was pizza, cheesecake, chicken....LOTS of food. Much of the gang was there though we sadly discussed the missing Kym, Kristabel, Jack (I don't know what gathering Jack was at when he took the photo he posted this afternoon but he was at the WRONG picnic!) , Jen and others. We're hoping to see them next time around. In this shot, left to right, you'll immediately recognize Monica, Carson Park Ranger, Fred, Ekovox and Boy Most Likely To. Everyone was having a grand old time, as if we'd know each other for years.
Then, just as we'd given up...we spotted him. It HAD to be him, didn't it? He's really here...Heraldo....lurking...spying...taking pictures....and I have proof!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Yeah, I know I've been a blog-slacker. I've actually had something written but it was a rant and I really hate ranting. I'm saving it till the subject comes up again. I'm sure it will.

I took part in my second Coast Cleanup today. It seems I usually find out about it AFTER the fact so I've begun marking the third Saturday of September on my new calendar. I often collect trash whenever I walk the beach but it's nice to be out there with a group with the same purpose and an official tally sheet. I didn't know where to go to find a group. but found a listing of dumpster sites donated by Les Schwab on the Northcoast Environment Center website. I took a chance and headed to Power Poles on the North Spit and found a crew there, passing out collection bags, tally sheets and rubber gloves.

It always seems to me that the Saturday following the Fourth of July would be a good time for the annual cleaning of the coast since days before and weeks after Independence Day, you will find remains of holiday explosives. I'm guessing, however, that September was chosen for a reason. The seasonal high tides bring on a productive flushing of the ocean, as Mother Nature regurgitates on shore the remnants of the meals she has ingested, thanks to slovenly humans.

Possibly because this beach is more a surf spot and less a party spot, I didn't find a lot of party trash though I talked to one girl who trudged up about the same time I did and her bag most definitely contained cans and bottles. I took advantage of the morning and started my walk at the water line. The tides have been high of late and there were more treasures to be found than normal for that stretch of beach. Of course, I also collected flotsam ... or is it jetsam? Most of what I collected was small so my bag didn't fill quickly. Pieces of nylon rope, a few shotgun shells, cups and straws (I HATE plastic straws). I contented myself knowing that these items would not return to the sea to be eaten by some unsuspecting creature. I actually found quite a lot of rope, including this coil, covered with barnacles from its time in the brine. Likely it had been connected to the remains of a crab pot collected by another team I met. What I didn't find was cigarette butts. Very surprising, though I suppose the aforementioned high tides may have already collected the soggy filters and floated them out on the tide. I'm guessing there has been some churning going on in the depths. A car frame surfaced that I was told shows up when tides are high. It would take a tractor to pull it up since it is upside down and hopefully someone so equipped will do that. Also found, the carcass of a sunfish. I left my lovely toes in the shot to give you an idea of it's size. It was a ways up the beach so the water has been carrying a lot of weight.I was rewarded with some beach treasures. A few nice chunks of agate and jasper. Four sand dollars, intact if not perfect and a wadded up dollar bill. That makes five bucks, right?Following my really long walk on the beach (I always forget to factor in the return trip when I stroll), I headed to the North Country Fair for some sun, a brew, the scent of patchouli and some Christmas shopping. All in all, a perfectly Humboldt day.

Tomorrow? The Bloggers Picnic.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I saw an elderly man, toddling along with the help of a cane as I passed Burre Center the other day. He was near the planter box and I saw him run his hand through the flowers…petunias, best I could tell. I wondered what memories came flooding back when the scent reached his nose. I tend to do the same, though mostly with herbs I pass…. especially basil. I LOVE the smell of basil. I’m sure Monica would say that smell reminds her of my mom who always had basil growing in a pot on the front porch.

I have been planting marigolds every Mother’s Day in honor of my mom who used to install them by the flat around our yard. When I brush my hand over them in the garden, that smell brings me back to watching her with a trowel, on her knees digging hole after hole. The same thing happens when I smell pansies and petunias ... and snapdragons which was why the old man that started all this made me smile.

Those figs that showed up in my farm box a few years ago (and again this week, yippee!) reminded me of something I didn’t even KNOW I remembered. Mrs. Cleary was an old lady that lived next to us on San Juan Avenue in Santa Cruz when I was very small. She was one of those old ladies that always wore a dress with tiny floral print, perhaps with an apron over the top. Even working in the garden, she wore a dress. I’m not sure I remember her from living there since we moved out of that house when I was about three but we went over to visit her on occasion. I remember that musty smell of her house but I REALLY remember the smell of figs. They were always smooshy on the ground so I’m not sure how much we ate but that smell is unmistakable. Oh, and walnuts.

More fragrant flashbacks …. riding on the motorcycle puts you where the temperature changes and scents are “in your face”. Riding down the Avenue, through the redwoods always gets me thinking about Girl Scout camps, especially if there is a campfire. Where there’s smoke, there’s s’mores. And, far from offensive, the smell of the waterfront near Pacific Seafoods reminds me of hanging out on the wharf in Santa Cruz.

So, what smells bring back memories for you?

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I have been remiss reporting on the booty that is the contents of my weekly veggie box from the CR farm. The first few boxes are always a crap shoot -- sometimes Davy Jones' locker, which includes early tomatoes, basil and zucchini, while others are like Pandora's Box, beets and more potatoes than we can eat. I HAVE actually been eating the beets (though I've pulverized some and put them in the freezer to make homemade bread pink and even healthier) and some of the potatoes, though I've been sharing these early spuds since they won't store well.
This week's box was stunning. Along with yet another bonanza of chard, some peas and basil, and yet another BUNCH of beets, there were these aubergine treasures. No Photoshopping here...honest. There was purple cauliflower, purple beans and one purple pepper. The apples were in there as well so I added them to this shot just for contrast. They're crisp and tasty with chunks of cheese.

If you're a veggie-eater, the farm box is a great way to get your veggies. If you're not a veggie eater.... listen to your mother and EAT YOUR VEGGIES! Every week I look forward to collecting my box of treasure to see what we'll be eating for the next seven days. It forces me to vary my produce selection beyond what I would normally buy and, because I'm a tightwad and hate to waste, we eat most all of it.....occasionally we get overloaded and the hens benefit when things spoil, but not very often. I know more of the Farmer's Market regulars are beginning to offer shares but I'm partial to supporting the CR farm.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Welcome to my 100th post folks...took me a bit longer than some of you but I finally got here.

So, my normally peaceful solo walks have been somewhat clouded by recent stories of bears on Trinidad Head. I find myself looking over my shoulder more often as I make my way across campus, especially first thing in the work day. There have always been occasional mountain lion sightings (though mostly by dormies and, to be honest, we're never really sure how lucid they were when they saw a big cat in the shadows…) in and around the trees on campus but several weeks ago, a bear was spotted near Creative Arts.

In the rural (translate: desolate) neighborhood where we lived in Minden, Nevada, there ran a wash …. a gulley about 15 feet wide and equally deep. Being the desert *shudder* it was susceptible to flash floods. Lightening storms would come and water would flow out of the Pine Nut Range in torrents; the alkaline soil unable to drink fast enough would allow runoff of astonishing amounts. One summer, one such flood enveloped our neighborhood, filling a few homes as well as the aforementioned wash with silt. The waters also washed away small rodents that fed the local raptor population.

On summer mornings, the dog and I used to walk out in the desert in the wee hours before it got too (freaking) hot. We would head out into the sagebrush for what would be a three or four mile loop of me power-walking and him chasing jackrabbits. Occasionally, I’d hear a noise in a bush and a jackrabbit would bolt by for Grizz’s entertainment or I’d spot a lizard scurrying in the sand. Once in a while, however, I’d here a crackling in the shrubs nearby and nothing would materialize. I would, on those occasions, become very aware of the fact that I was a ways off of the road and earshot of residents. Was it just a jackrabbit? Or perhaps a coyote? What would the coyote do? Hell, what would I do?!

These things cross my mind as I walk now….What was that noise? This morning, it was an odd noise that cut through the music of my iPod. I turned quickly … right, left, up….ah, just a crow making an odd noise. Just a crow…..which got me thinking about that wash in Nevada and the Burrowing Owls that lived in its walls. One morning, several years after a flash flood forced the owls to seek food elsewhere, I spotted one of the squatty little creatures, watching me from the top of a sagebrush. Grizz and I were walking along the trail on the opposite side of the wash. When I saw it, I stopped….”hey Grizz, check it out…the owls are back”. I stood there for a moment, admiring the little bird…8-10” tops…..happy it had returned to our stark little piece of the landscape. As we admired, it “SCHRIEK”ed….opening its wings to a full eight feet (well they LOOKED that wide) and came at me! The little bastard was hell-bent and chased me a good eighth of a mile along the trail while I ran as if I was running for my life, hood pulled up to protect my scalp from what I was certain were six-inch talons. Run, Grizz, Run! We ran like the wind, owl screaming overhead, until I came to a crossing over the wash allowing me to get to the road that would lead me to salvation.

So, in conclusion, in my world there is no longer such thing as “just a crow” -- or, “just a pigeon” or “just a sparrow” for that matter. Any flutter of wings over head will still cause me to involuntarily flinch and duck just a bit. Now they tell me there are bears on campus…

Monday, August 11, 2008


I bought a lug of peaches and am madly working to get them peeled and cut up before they spoil. I added a little thyme to the fruit before pouring it it into the crust. Please oh please tell me you get the reference to that ubiquitous song from the late 70's. I believe it replaced the Carpenters' We've Only Just Begun in the wedding DJ portfolio. It was running through my head all morning as I made the filling.

Friday, August 8, 2008


My apologies but that was the first “wine” song that came to mind..

Today is not only the beginning of the summer Olympics but the anniversary of my birth. As the afternoon at work slowed, my boss suggested I take off to enjoy the rest of my birthday. Since the bus schedule allowed for an early departure, I took a bit of “annual leave” to enjoy the rest of my day…thanking my Mom for her labor 51 years ago.

I got home and opted to enjoy the sudden sunshine with a glass of wine and my current read (Shattered by Dick Francis). As I sat in my weedy little back yard with my book and glass of Pinot Grigio, I realized I was getting a buzz on in the middle of the afternoon. I hadn't even finished one glass. Mind you, I’ve always been a micro-brew and cheap wine girl. In the past, friends with whom we coordinated a motorcycle show criticized me…. how could I drink “that cheap crap in a box?”….”Easy. It tastes good”. However, while they would drink only the best wine with real corks....their beer of choice was Olympia .... Light ... in a can. Gawd! They couldn’t see the parallel. I drink GOOD beer and cheap wine. Not fine wine, mind you, but decent, inexpensive grape squeezins. I don’t know “nose” and “bouquet”. The only “fingering” I know is when I have to dip fruit flies out of my glass. I do not sniff the cork. Hell, boxes have funny plastic valves instead of corks!

Of late, I’ve been trying to get out of the boxed wine habit. Not because of my snooty friends but for my safety. I only developed a taste for “the box” because I didn’t drink much wine and was the only wino in the house so the little bladder inside that box allowed the wine to retain a modicum of freshness. I developed a taste for White Zinfandel, however, which is rather sweet and, no matter the vintner, goes down fast. When I’m thirsty, I drink, which is why I don’t generally drink alcohol with a meal; I can pretty much get hammered just trying to quench my thirst. I will have a glass while preparing dinner – a slosh for me and one for the pot, thank you Galloping Gourmet, for the inspiration. Maybe I’ll even have a second glass if dinner takes some time to prepare. Somehow, boxed wine didn't seem to be very ….. intoxicating. I decided to break myself of the “box o`white zin” habit and move to a less guzzleable wine to encourage a slower ingestion. I have found, however, that one glass of good wine, will replicate the aforementioned hammering that cheap wine gives after several glasses. Limiting my intake is easy since I can't stand up straight enough to pour a second glass.

So, to summarize: Several glasses boxed wine = tippy mom = 1 glass decent wine. I haven’t saved a penny but at least when I stagger in the kitchen, I can say “I only had one glass” and mean it.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Inspired by Jack's recent blogs, spotting whales in Trinidad Harbor, I packed up a pasta salad picnic and we headed north a little dinner al fresco at the Memorial Lighthouse. Of course, the promised sunny evening did not appear so we were left with sweatshirt weather as the sky grew ever darker. Squinting into the dim ocean, I caught site of a spout and ran for the camera. We watched what appeared to be two or three whales in the area around the haystack, rise to the surface, take a breath than tip their tale to taunt those of us that watched from shore. Mark and Glo decided they were "just krillin'". We kept watch until it was too dark to see much and sweatshirts became inadequate. Whales were there indeed. Thanks, Jack, for the inspiration.