Friday, March 28, 2014


This week, TGIF stands for "Ticks Give Interesting Footage."  I posted this photo on Face book this morning and managed to gross people out as much as I was grossed out upon discovering it on my friend's dog.  Ugh.  Kathy commented that it was the BEST weight-loss site on the Internet.

I have no idea what kind of tick it is, other than a very satisfied one.  We have many in California.  This is probably the brown Dog Tick.  We saw another one the other night, just sittin' there on a blanket happy as a clam.  I mean tick.  The size difference is phenomenal.  This is like the Blob That Ate Chicago.

Is it wrong for me to post this sort of thing on Face book (and now my blog)?  All I can say is that it must be the 10 year old boy in me that is fascinated by this creature and the sharing of the engorged specimen. 

Hope you aren't getting ready to sit down to a meal.  Happy Friday, mis amigos!

Friday, March 21, 2014


Two movies to recommend this Friday:  Ponette and Blue is the Warmest Color.  Both extraordinary movies, French with English subtitles, both award winners.  The acting is flawless, and in Ponette, the main characters are very young children.  How the heck did the director get such fine acting out of such young people?  Doesn't look or feel like acting at either movie.  They feel as if you are a fly on the wall, observing the scenes of real life.  Blue is a 2013 winner at Cannes.   And available to downstream on Netflix.  Ponette is available on DVD from Netflix or you can purchase on Amazon (at a hefty price of $97).

Both intensely personal, emotionally shattering, compelling in both the storyline and the acting.

Rarely have I been so moved by a film(s).

Thank Gawd It's Friday, you have a whole weekend to watch.

Out in theaters, I recently watched Tim's Veermer.  A documentary on one man's vision and labors to unravel the mystery of the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer, known and loved for his extraordinary use of light in his work.  It's mostly showing in small art houses, so if it's in your town you'd better get a hustle in your bustle before it's gone.

These movies are all an antidote to big Hollywood blockbusters.  These are movies with real heart, real characters and the stuff of real life.  No fantasy action stuff here.  No siree.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hydraulic Fracturing

I went to a rally at the Capitol in Sacramento Saturday. Billed as the largest anti-Fracking rally in California history, supporters of a moratorium on fracking in California are urging Gov. Brown to ban fracking, presumably until a time when it might be deemed safe for the environment and for people.
All the usual suspects were there, young and old, farm workers, California natives (original), guerrilla theater, guitars, yogis and the curious. It was a very laid-back crowd, sometimes so much so that they didn't follow the chanting prompts bellowed out on the loud speakers. Much to the chagrin of the leaders....
There were many kids there, toddlers even. These boys took up a good post in the tree and had a variety of signs to hold up. Like many in the crowd, they didn't know much about fracking, but they'd heard it was bad. I watched an HBO documentary years ago called "Gasland," where the hazards of fracking and the secrecy of the oil and gas companies is laid bare. On the other hand, I read articles by geologists who claim that fracking in safe, both for the environment and people. They minimize the fears that were raised in the documentary. I get so confused, and don't know whom to believe sometimes, but when you watch farmers and other directly affected by natural gas extraction on their land, and listen to their first hand testimony, it's pretty damning. And the corporations of course make everyone sign a 'non-disclosure agreement' when they sell fracking rights on their land.

This young couple took a bus up from Santa Barbara with a lot of others just for the rally. They were sincere and sweet, and I kept running into them. Buses of people came from all over the state. I heard about the rally from S.'s friend in Arizona for crying out loud. Blocks from my home, and I wouldn't have known it was going on except for this informed guy in Phoenix.

It occurs to me that even if the chemicals used in the process turn out to be at such low levels that they are harmless, the amount of water and energy expended setting up a fracking site is just not worth the energy extracted from underground. Watch Gasland; it will astound you the number of trucks full of water, chemicals and equipment required to initiate a site. How can it possibly be worth it? Use that energy to provide the energy you are seeking. Oh. Right. Then nobody would make any money. It also occurs to me that if we, collectively, really were serious about ending these kind of hazardous practices, we would make some real changes in the way we transport ourselves, the amount of energy we consume in every day life and in the products we buy and from where we buy them. We could affect great change, but we live in a country where we use 25% of the total world's resources, and we are used to this standard of living. Most educated people understand the impact our living has on the planet, but keep doing the same old things. This isn't going to get us to energy independence. This isn't going to be sustainable for the world community. We need a real "come to Jesus" national conversation about this.  This going to be a stretch, especially when our very own President says fracking is a good bridge from oil to renewable resources.  B.S., I say.  B.S.

Friday, March 14, 2014


This is where I was this Friday morning.  Standing on the beach in Capitola, CA (north end of Monterey Bay) staring at the Venetian Hotel, the way I have many many times over the years. By turns gaudy and grand, this hotel has been a landmark in this small town since 1924.

Housekeeping staff was busy with their morning rounds, and here are a couple of their kids playing in the sand just outside the hotel.  They must think their parents work in the coolest place on earth.  Up and over the dune they went, over and over again, not a shovel or a bucket between them, but having the time of their lives.

The whole scene made me feel peaceful and grateful.  I could have planted myself in that sand all morning, but a small dog in my car made me move it along.  I took her for a walk after that, further south, where there was grass and trees and plenty of space to run and relieve herself.

I was visiting my daughter's family, to help out while my son-in-law was out of town on business.  The weather was purrrrrrr-fect.  75 degrees and crystal clear.  I sighed remembering how I used to live in this paradise.  When I lived here, I hardly ever made it to the beach.  Now it takes a 2.5 hour drive to let me appreciate what has been there all along.  The whole coast here is a summer escape for the folks in Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, Fresno and the whole hot stinkin' Great Central Valley.  Salad Bowl of the United States.  Unbearably hot in the summer, those who can, make their way to Monterey Bay, book a place to stay and say thanks for the relief the cool fog offers.

I enjoy it more now that I don't see it every day.  Since I don't have to deal with life in a tourist town every day.  Since I have the grand good pleasure of playing with my grandson when I am there.  By the way, he bit me on the thigh this visit.  Just feeling vicious in the morning.  First he was poking the dog in the eye and I told him to stop.  That's when he bit me.  Guess I learned my lesson.  That'll teach me, all right.

As for him, his mom gave him a time out.  Ha-ha.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Perhaps you have experienced this video. I love love love it. Don't we all deserve to feel this way? Here's something I read recently about happiness (nine ways to achieve it): 1. Start each day with expectation. If there's any big truth about life, it's that it usually lives up to (or down to) your expectations. Therefore, when you rise from bed, make your first thought: "something wonderful is going to happen today." Guess what? You're probably right. 2. Take time to plan and prioritize. The most common source of stress is the perception that you've got too much work to do. Rather than obsess about it, pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first. 3. Give a gift to everyone you meet. I'm not talking about a formal, wrapped-up present. Your gift can be your smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even a friendly nod. And never pass beggars without leaving them something. Peace of mind is worth the spare change. 4. Deflect partisan conversations. Arguments about politics and religion never have a "right" answer but they definitely get people all riled up over things they can't control. When such topics surface, bow out by saying something like: "Thinking about that stuff makes my head hurt." 5. Assume people have good intentions. Since you can't read minds, you don't really know the "why" behind the "what" that people do. Imputing evil motives to other people's weird behaviors adds extra misery to life, while assuming good intentions leaves you open to reconciliation. 6. Eat high quality food slowly. Sometimes we can't avoid scarfing something quick to keep us up and running. Even so, at least once a day try to eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or an imported chocolate. Focus on it; taste it; savor it. 7. Let go of your results. The big enemy of happiness is worry, which comes from focusing on events that are outside your control. Once you've taken action, there's usually nothing more you can do. Focus on the job at hand rather than some weird fantasy of what might happen. 8. Turn off "background" TV. Many households leave their TVs on as "background noise" while they're doing other things. The entire point of broadcast TV is to make you dissatisfied with your life so that you'll buy more stuff. Why subliminally program yourself to be a mindless consumer? 9. End each day with gratitude. Just before you go to bed, write down at least one wonderful thing that happened. It might be something as small as a making a child laugh or something as huge as a million dollar deal. Whatever it is, be grateful for that day because it will never come again. I also read recently about taking a 24 hour break from the connected world of electronics: computers, t.v., (phone?) starting at sundown on Friday and going until sundown Saturday. I'm going to try that, though probably not this week, as I am on-call for the SPCA and need to make phone calls this evening. But I can, and will, unplug from everything else. Of course, this is an idea born directly from the practice of Shabbat. Rest, contemplation, refraining from work. No need to go to a fancy spa or religious retreat, just do it where you are, in your life, and reap the benefits. Because I want to keep this "happy" groove going and going. It's just that simple. And that radical.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Woke up this morning with this lil' ditty on my mind:

I once had a friend named Joe
who had a terrible ache in his toe.
I was inspired, and so I inquired,
"How is your Tojo?"

I do indeed have a friend who has a bothersome toe, but his name ain't Joe.  So, a little artistic license. 

I have not been moved to post much lately, but that doesn't mean a lot hasn't been going on.  I'm healthy, happy and busy.  How is it that life is so good right now?  I count my blessings.

Waaayyyy back when I moved to Sacramento (2 years) I asked my readers if I was going to love this new life or not.  The answer is unequivocally "yes!"

A recent hike to the Sutter Buttes brought out the photographers, and how.  There I am, on the far left. A great trip, wonderful, interesting people.  Sponsored by the Sutter Buttes Land Trust.  A group of farmers and ranchers who open up their private land for guided hikes around the buttes -- the smallest mountain range in the U.S.

And last night, at Sacramento State college, a divine concert by Jordi Savall.  He chose Sacramento for his one and only U.S. performance this year.  How in the world did that happen?  He plays the viola da gamba, an instrument that died out for about 250 years, as the transmission from teacher to student was lost.  It is a terrific instrument, and I'd love to know the history of the particular one he used last night.  He took us through the history of music written for the viola da gamba, and treated us to various tunings, percussion, plucking, and bowing.

During intermission I had to use the restroom, as we are wont to do, and was stuck in a long line of women because there were only TWO stalls in the restroom!  My line companions and I had a good laugh about that, and I explained why there probably was no accessible stalls - 40 year old building with no appreciable renovation to kick in ADA code.  I was transported back to my days of a construction project manager, and then looked around with those old eyes and saw all kinds of code violations!  Gosh, retirement is a good thing.  I don't have to be the building code policewoman anymore.

Enjoy some Jordi Savall, won't you?

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...