Friday, July 29, 2016

 What a week it has been.  Am I right?  Can I get an amen?
  •  California is burning once again.
  •  The Democrats delivered a great convention.
  •  Lucy got her stitches out.
  •  We've had triple digit temperatures all week long.
  •  My insane father is going to vote for the party instead of for the country.  How angry I am I ?
 I'm scrolling past all the political posts on Facebook because I just cannot bear it.  We're all going to talk until we're blue in the face and we're going to get the government that we deserve.  You know me, I was an ardent Sanders supporter, but now, c'mon, HRC has got to win.  If not, our country will be in deep, deep doo-doo.

On a positive note, we're going to our grandson's 5th birthday party tomorrow.  My parents started a college fund for him, and my husband made a generous donation to the college fund I have set up for him.  That. Kid. Is. Going. To. College.

Five years have gone by so quickly.  Maybe not for his parents, who have triumphed in the toughest job in the world.  They are so steady.  They are so loving.  They have fun with their boy.  They are teaching him well.  They know how to deliver the "time out." 

I had fun buying him presents today -- a Playdough set that he can stuff and extrude gooey stuff, a set of magnets with cars, trains and planes, a book about Penguins (which he loves).

I remember well my 5th birthday party at the San Diego Zoo.  I had a hissy fit and had to go sit in the car for my time out.  My dad drew all the invitations, with zoo animals on them.  I thought then, and now, that was the coolest thing.  Wasn't my dad a man of great talent? It was a big deal, quite an event, which was unusual in my family.  Friends and family gathered under the picnic tent. A giant cake.  1962.  Holy Cow.

I have to leave you with a great quote from HRC's acceptance speech: "A man you can bait with a Tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."

Word.  Have a great weekend.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Musings

After we returned from France and Spain in May, we purchased four olive trees to plant at home.  We intend to keep them smallish, in large pots, and nicely sculpted.  The olives we had in Europe were so danged delicious, we just have to give this a shot.  I've been reading up on curing the fruit, which is harvested in October.  In brine curing, which is the way I want to go (no lye for me, thank you), it's pretty simple but it takes time.  Olives jarred in October will be ready to eat in May or June.  Our very small trees have olives all over them.

Mission olives originated in the United States.  There are many olive trees in our town, with a fairly large stretch of them just down the road, bordering the university.  I never thought to forage these, but here's a good post suggesting it.  I have no idea what kind of yield our small trees will have, and it can vary year to year.  So, I might be sneaking around to some of the trees planted in public.
The small Brown Turkey fig we planted last year yielded 3 small fruit.  They didn't even ripe up enough for eating.  This year, however, we have quite a few.  They can be harvested in September, and I'm looking forward to figs and cream, figs and brie, and just plain old warm ripe figs straight off the tree.  My mother used to make a fine fig jam, back in the day.

The dwarf apple, with 6 varieties, is also growing in a large wine barrel.  We do this because our soil is terrible and fraught with tree roots, but also to keep the dogs from chewing on them.  No fruit as of yet, so we'll see.  We had a very small harvest last year, and didn't get around to eating more than a couple.  Fingers crossed for this year.

Lastly, I want to tell you about a great effort by a local family.  They farm zinnias, and many many of them.  They farm them so folks will come a pick them FOR FREE.  You can read more about here.  The deal is, if you pick a bunch for yourself, pick another bunch to give to folks who are living in nursing homes, or are in hospitals or hospice.  We're going to drive up there soon, early in the day (it was 108 degrees yesterday), to harvest some.  I love zinnias, they last a long time, and what a fabulous idea to spread the joy of fresh flowers to those who are confined.  

LIFE IS GOOD.  Believe it.  Make it so.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Musings

Best news ever: successful surgery today to remove her tumor and it looks as though the cancer was localized.  No signs of spreading anywhere.  A biopsy will be done nevertheless.

It's going to cost a fair amount of money, but I had to know what her prognosis is.  I couldn't live knowing she had cancer and not knowing how much damage had been done.  I'm glad we moved forward and the resulting news just relieves us of this terrible burden.

Gosh, but we do love our animals, don't we?  I need their warm bodies, their happy tails, their kisses more than ever now.  They are the best therapy, as all you animals lovers already know.

Knife wielding attacker on a German train?  Hug your fur baby.

84 innocents killed in Nice?  Give that doggie an extra treat tonight.

Turmoil in Turkey? Take your pup for a romp in the park.

Not an answer to the world's problems, but they sure are an answer to dealing with the stress of the world.

Studies have found that:
  • Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
  • Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
  • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
There you go.  We just know we love her to bits.

Friday, July 15, 2016


I wrote this post an hour or so before I heard about the carnage in Nice, France.  Is there going to be a TGIF in the near future where I don't feel compelled to address the horrors that occur?

Anyway, my grief doesn't help those in Nice.  All I can say is: there are very bad apples in the crate, but they are not the entire load. 

Now, please enjoy our regularly scheduled programming.


There's a 7 day Facebook challenge that my daughter nominated me for.  The challenge is to share a picture a day for 7 days, a picture of your spouse and yourself.

I'm not big on these kinds of Facebook games, but I can't refuse my daughter.  Plus, it's been fun to look back over our brief history together.  The hiking picture was one of our first photos together.  There we are on the far left.

We've had some great times in our mere 3 years together.  Our second wedding anniversary is coming up next month.  Since our marriage, we've traveled to Yosemite, Cuba, Hawaii, Napa Valley, France and Spain.  Not to mention all the fun local trips: a ferry ride from Vallejo to San Francisco, the Tour of California in Sacramento, numerous trips to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife area and the backroads around Davis.  That's a lot of good living packed into a few years.  Carpe Diem.

Have a fun weekend, doing whatever it is you do!  Please remember all the goodness in the world; all the good people in your life.  Take heart.  Courage.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Musings (Difficult Conversations)

There have been some passionate conversations on social media as a result of the Police shootings and the Dallas shootings of Police officers.  I have engaged in many of these difficult conversations because I think I can see a way through this and I want to participate.  Just as the LGBTQ movement benefitted from being out and proud, and often loud, I think people of color in this country can lead the way in being loud about their experiences in America.  As a white person, I can listen, try to understand, and understand how to be their comrade in the struggle for equality in this country.  Just like in AA, the first step is admitting we have a problem.

The Seattle Times has a timely project on having these difficult conversations.  I highly recommend the videos -- they are instructive and, to my way of thinking, positive narratives that lead to empathy and healing.  Please see them here.

I know next to nothing about growing up as a person of color in this country.  From the very few 'racial divide' experiences I've had with friends of color, I get a wee glimpse:
  • my next door neighbor and I in her driveway running a garage sale.  every car that pulls up that has white people in it drives away.  Every.  Single. One.  She and her family are black.  I ask her if it's just my perception that only people of color are stopping and she confirms that it is, in fact, the case.  I know it was such an obvious question, but I was seriously confused and disturbed by what I thought was going on and I guess I looking for reassurance.
  • a friend has 'the talk' with her teenager who is black.  She is white, her other son is Latino.  She doesn't have the talk with her Latino son.  She asks her black child to please carry his ID with him at all times, and to do nothing that would provoke a Police officer if he is stopped.  She has this talk to impress upon him that his life is a stake.  For getting stopped by an officer.  
  • the shock and horror of a white family, knowing their daughter is going to marry a black man.  A wonderful man who has been an ideal husband and father.  Who is one of the most decent human beings I have ever known.  Someone we can all point to as an exemplary citizen, family man, church goer.  (Just as women have to perform twice as hard as a man in the workplace to get noticed, it appears that people of color must have a spotless reputation to earn the trust of white American.) 
  • I've hired a college student to house sit for us while we're on vacation.  Nice guy, studious and fairly religious, though he doesn't wear it on his sleeve.  I suggest, and he breathes a sigh of relief, that I take him around and introduce him to my neighbors so no one freaks out and calls the cops on a young black man in the neighborhood, and in our house.
And I know, that I used to be that white woman who pulled her purse in close to her body when walking by young black men.  Based on no other information than the blackness of their skin.  I grew up in mostly white neighborhoods, attended mostly white schools, socialized in mostly white groups of people.  I grew up knowing that Police officers were my friends, there to help me.  I grew up believing the world of business and housing and education was fair, and that fairness was a given.  If you worked hard, there were no barriers.  I believed these things only by accident of birth.  I believed these things because I was experiencing America as a white person.

It is now incumbent upon me to be a part of the solution and stop being silent as a white person.  I believe it is essential for me, and everyone else, to listen to the real life experiences of people of color and ask "how can I help?"  It's my responsibility to, as they say, "check my privilege" and ask other whites to do the same.  That's not politically correct talk, as some would assert.  That is basic human kindness and civility.  That is wanting to be a part of healing this deeply divided country.  Our country will not change if white people don't start looking honestly at their own assumptions and prejudices.  If we react in a defensive posture, instead of leaning in to hear more closely. 

Friday, July 8, 2016


Today, my TGIF stands for "This Game Is Fucked."  Two more shootings of Americans of African descent.  And now 5 officers killed in Dallas because someone wanted to exact revenge.  As my friend Robin says, this is a fakakta world.

I'm reading posts about how to support our black brothers and sisters.  As white people, when we stand idly by, we are part of the problem.  Professor Michael Eric Dyson has a devastatingly honest column about this latest outrage.  Read it here.  It's a must read for white America.  And in other news, I'm reading that Black Lives Matter activists are calling for "comrades" to join them in their struggle.  The word "Ally," some say, is too passive, and what is needed is mass action.  And what's important for us as white Americans is that we become true comrades and listen to what our black and brown brothers and sisters are saying.  It's their narrative, not ours.

In other shitty news this week, our lil' pup Lucy has malignant cancer.  Yea, you read that right.  I took her in for a routine check up in advance of kenneling her while we are away.  Never expected this news.  Kicked me in the guts.  She's going to have surgery to determine the extent of the cancer, so we will at least know in more detail what her prognosis is. 

She is not acting sick at all.  Running around, barking at dogs, birds, humans.  Gobbling up snacks.  So, fingers crossed, maybe this is a small growing cancer and it is still localized.  She's had this growth for at least 3 years, and another vet a couple of years ago said it was nothing to be concerned about.  (Thank you, asshat.)

I am grateful for the concern our friends are showing us.  People who love the lil' mutt as well, and are as stricken as we.  Trying to keep it in perspective and not lose my shit.

In better news, I entered a Street Photography contest.  You can see my images here.   I've also been greatly encouraged by re-reading some books on creating art.  Art and Fear, and Steal Like an Artist.  Also, one I've not read yet but it's sitting on my desk, The View from the Studio Door.

It's good to know that I'm not alone in my struggles and exuberance when it comes to making art.  It's who I am.  And I wouldn't want it any other way.  Recognition or no.

I wish you peace this weekend, friends.  We really do need to help each other along our way.  It feels good to give it, and it feels good to get it.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Musings

This is not  your typical 4th of July.  I'm not spending energy on a bbq'd feast or downing copious amounts of beer.  No baking in the heat, no rubbing shoulders in massive sweaty crowds.  No, I'm reading artsy books and listening to Green Day, doing research for a book I might write, sitting with my husband in the hot tub, and looking forward to a 5:00 p.m. Facetime convo with good friends while we sip our cocktails.

After all these years, I've earned sitting this one out.  Enough bomb blasts for me.  Apparently, there are so-called silent fireworks,  but they are akin to fire falls and don't go shooting up in the sky, which is what most people expect and want. 

The fire season in California has begun already, just a tad early.  How many fires will illegal fireworks start today?  We are tinder dry and even a lit cigarette could do it, much less gun powder fueled fire.  All in the name of fun, eh?

I did hang the Stars and Stripes today, not to be outdone by my neighbor.  So I'm not completely heartless.  Or maybe I'm just competitive.

There all kinds of fun and legitimate ways to celebrate the day, so don't let me rain on your parade.  We were considering a invitation to go the Nevada City to photograph the parade, and while it initially sounded like fun, the reality of the heat and crowds and noise set in and I just couldn't bear it.  We're going to sit in the backyard tonight and try to get a glimpse of the community fireworks that are launched at a park about a mile from us.  We'll see how that goes.

"To the dreamers
Wide-eyed believers
Hanging onto hope by a thread
To the soulful
Heart open hopeful
Keep on charging ahead."

Two Americas

Tara Crowley
All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 1, 2016


There's nothing quite like a trip to Costco to start off the weekend.  We purchased considerably more than this, but this was our first box off the shelf and I thought it was pretty funny looking on that giant slab of a cart.

The grandson is visiting and we had a great day in the inflatable kiddie pool yesterday.  Unfortunately, said pool is on its last legs and now is only holding enough air to support about 2 inches of water.  Leaky valves, I suspect.  So, instead of buying another one, I simply turned the heat down on the hot tub and have turned it into a pool for now.  However, that day in the pool was SO much fun that I'm coveting a real pool someday.  Even an above ground one, I'm not proud.  It was glorious to be floating in cool water while the air temp hovered around 104.  Even a long lap pool would suffice.  Cool water, that's the thing for this summer heat.  Great to be able to go outside in the middle of the day.

We have no plans for the 4th.  Too noisy, too hot, too crowded.  We've seen fireworks before.  Big whoop.  We're happy to skip the road traffic, stay at  home and enjoy each others company.  It's what most people do on vacation, and we get to do it any ol' time we want.

Lest you think we lead a life of leisure, let me remind you we went to Costco today.  And we've been doing yard clean up.  Yuck.  My tendinitis tells me how much I enjoy that crap.  I also did grocery shopping and picked up RXs this morning.  There's vacuuming to be done and a dog to be trimmed.  Last, be certainly not least, there's a little boy who needs our attention, and to whom we are happy to give it.  We spent some time in the hammock while I was watering this morning.  He calls it the "tree bed."  Plus he wants us to build a tree house.  That's not happening.  Blowing up that pool yesterday just about ended our lives.  Imagine what building a tree house would do.  Twice yesterday our play got pretty physical, and I had to remind him to be gentle, because, "I am an old lady."  He said, "You don't LOOK old."  The little Rascal.

Have a great weekend.  Keep cool and stay safe.

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...