Friday, April 11, 2014

Road Games

You're driving down the road. You left the house with plenty of time to reach your destination as promised. A James Taylor CD is crooning soothing tunes. Your favorite ride-along beverage, coffee, soda, a nice refreshing bottle of water, is in the cup holder. Clothes are all your most comfortable you own...that you can be out in public while wearing.

Nothing but smooth sailing.

You look up in the rear-view mirror. Big white pickup truck is weaving in and out of traffic behind you at a speed at least 12 miles faster than the rest of the vehicles.

Do you think, "Frickin' Idiot" and speed up until you are even with the back of the trailer on a big rig and slow down to block the "Idiot"?  Does your jaw get tight while you are teaching this guy a lesson?

What if you're in a hurry and some guy cuts you off?

Do you like road games? Have you designated yourself to be the Master of Road Etiquette?

I know what you are thinking. I think the same things.

"Who gave him permission to risk our lives so he can get somewhere first?"

"This jerk is full of himself, I'll show him!"

Typically though, I just pull over.  I get out of the way. There is enough of humanity fighting with each other and, frankly, the sooner the inconsiderate, demon driver is past me, the sooner I can get back to Sweet Baby James.

I have ridden along with the "players" though. I've witnessed the "I'll-show-you" gut reaction of otherwise pretty civil people. That's usually when I wish I had a xanax and I say a little prayer, "Dear God, if the other driver pulls out a gun, please let it be fast and clean. Don't let me suffer!"

(Side Note: I really don't want to be wounded because I still haven't lost that extra weight and what if the paramedics can't get me up on the stretcher? HOW HUMILIATING!)

There is almost always at least one of those speed-weavers on the road. Yes, it is annoying. But, when you have him blocked behind you and the semi, have you ever thought that maybe the driver's wife is delivering their first child and he is trying to get to the hospital? Maybe he is headed to the same hospital because his dad is in an ambulance after suffering a major stroke and his last conversation with Dad didn't end well. Maybe the crazy-ass driver just got a call from his daughter, "Daddy, a car came out of nowhere and crashed into my car. I can't move. I need you!"

Do you want to be the one who keeps someone from any of a hundred reasons why they would be racing down the street or highway?

Granted, there are a bunch of jerks who just believe they are entitled to go faster and be in front and that the laws don't apply to them.

Do you want to make the judgement call; which one of the scenarios is the motivation best applies in this moment?

Deep breath! "Let Go, Let God!" is what I always whisper to myself. Less white knuckles on my part.

This week an older man was taking his wife home from the hospital. She had just been released after major open heart surgery. In his stressful state he accidentally cut off a guy.

The "cut-off guy" became enraged! How dare those old people cut him off. He took off in pursuit, which just meant that he got right on their bumper and begin to shout obscenities at them. The older woman talked to her husband. Be calm, she said. She rolled her window down to apologize to the other driver as he pulled up beside them and ask him to be calm.

The other drive threw a large coffee mug at the innocent woman, smashing her face causing profuse bleeding. The woman was on blood thinner to try to prevent blood clots after her surgery. The older man made an immediate u-turn to head back to hospital but before they reached the hospital his wife stopped breathing. Hospital staff started CPR on her recently cracked open chest, reviving her breathing and heart beat but she has been in a coma ever since.

There are finger prints on the mug; the model of the car and license number of the car are known. The offender will be tracked down soon but is that going to help the old couple. Will that save her life?

What happened to "Love this neighbor!"  Doesn't anybody remember how to "roll with the punches!"

 If you are going to make war on the road then drop the disguise! Put on tighty whities two sizes too small or a bra that makes it hard to breathe. Wear shoes that pinch and a pair of pants that creates a royal muffin top. And for heaven's sake, put on some Metallica or some crude Rap on the radio.

Was this a ramble or does it make sense?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spontaneous Sunset

A beautiful Sunday. We decided to hang around the house. No photography for us today, just catching up with yard work. We have totally neglected the yard for months. Frank mowed the lawn that was over a foot tall in the back; it's been too wet to mow! (that's our story and we're sticking to it!)

After chores, I laid in bed and read for awhile. Frank took a little nap and then headed outside to blow the driveway clean and fill up the green bin with trimmings. He even transplanted a couple of little lilac shoots.

Sometime around 6:30, while I contemplated whether to prepare pork chops or stir fry for dinner, Frank came bounding into the house after a walk with Rex. He and our dog must have run the last lap of their "walk"!  They were both panting and, at least one of them, was shaking his tail with great joy!

"Grab your camera, its going to be a great sunset!" We jump into the car with everything we needed, tripod, quick release, microfiber wipes, lenses. Surprisingly, we were much better equipped as we spontaneously headed out than we often are when it is a planned trip.

We headed to our favorite valley view spot about 25 minutes east of town. We had about ten minutes of just "observing" or "feeling" Nature, as our own nature dictates! (see prior post).

As the sun dropped behind Shasta Bolly and the coastal range the most incredible cloud formation was displayed in glorious shades of pink, orange and deeper orange. Hard to describe, so I will just show you.
 Doesn't it look as if a goddess ran her fingers through the clouds? Or maybe Zeus dropped a large object down from Mt. Olympus causing ripples in the sky!

The circles were even apparent around the sunset.  It hinted that the sun was actually causing  ripples as it sank into the night sky!  (Yes, there are some who have verbalized their concern regarding my overactive imagination.  They are living happily ever after in their own jars!)

No rings around Mt. Shasta. Maybe Lemurians are not fond of rings! At least we finally have snow on the mountain, though she did have to wait until March for her winter coat! Not sure if that was due to global warming or the state of the economy.

Sometimes, subtly is nice too. One can only handle so much drama!

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Photographer and Filmmaker, Louie Scwartzberg, appeared on the OWN network's Super Soul Sunday show this morning. He is one of the first, if not the first, photographer to implement time lapse photography. Started it to save money because he couldn't afford a lot of the 35mm film back in the old days, so he filmed slower!

His photography and filmmaking is indescribably delicious. He seems to focus (get it) on nature, recording bees pollinating, butterflies wriggling out of cocoons, dancing flowers. Beautiful images.

Oprah asked him two questions that made my mind itch.

"How do you relate to nature?"
"How would you describe nature?"

Not surprising,  I don't recall his answers. I was too busy asking my husband the same questions?

I asked him what he thought nature was. "God's creation," was his instant answer. No surprise for any of you who know him...he's on the fast track to Sainthood!

How does he relate to nature? He is an intense observer! He sees it all but his area of expertise is things-of-the-sky.

My answer to what is nature? God's song! Yeah, I'm much more poetic than Mr. Sky Guy!

How do I relate? I feel nature. Frank disagrees. He thinks I relate to nature through him! In spite of his impressive intelligence and knowledge he leans to the cocky narcissistic side!

We did agree that he looks at the big picture and I "see" the details, the little stories in the big picture. He refused to accept the fact that I feel nature.  I am not an observer of nature but I am a participant in it.  He still refused that I could "feel" it.

So I made him make his own breakfast...How did nature and I feel about that?  Pretty dang-gum good!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Empty Nest

The Empty Nest by Donna O'Briant

There in a high branch of a proud old tree,
Lay a nest of babies which no one could see.
Beside the nest, stood Mother, with loving heart,
And Father looking on, guarding as from the start.
The babies were young and filled with delight,
The ways of the world were beyond their sight.
They were wanting to try their wings of gold,
And enter the new world, ever so bold.
Their parents were hesitant, all so knowing,
Their babies had not finished growing.
But knowing they needed that freedom,
Were willing to let the babies leave them.
The first little bird, so eager his wings, 
Thoughts of the new world losing his strings,
He jumped on the side of the nest so fast,
And flew into the air, was free at last.
The next little bird, so timid, so shy,
He wanted to go but not a goodbye,
He timidly went to the side of the nest,
And flew to the next branch, then passed his test.
The last little bird, the last of the three,
Looked round at her parents, then forward to see,
The new world was opened for her to reach,
By trying her wings, trying what they did teach.
The wind got under the wings of the last,
And she flew through the air, into the world so vast,
Leaving the only home that she had known,
To go into world, the breaking of dawn.

The parents looked on as all of the three,
Found love and happiness and family.
They were proud of the choices that were made,
But their love for their babies never did fade.
The empty nest will always be there,
But visited with love and care,
The empty nest will be a guiding light,
A home for hope and stars so bright.

Can't Get Them Back

Two days from now one of my granddaughters will be turning 13. That makes 3 of the girls that will be 13 all at the same time! I posted a picture of her playing her violin during a Christmas show this year and a picture when she was about 2 years old when she is just about to kiss a bunny rabbit.

Her mother posted this response: "I love this photo and it brings tears to my eyes - my sweet girl is growing into an amazing young woman. I'm a proud mama, but it sure is bittersweet knowing how fast it is going!"

Her comment didn't just bring tears to my eyes but tears that rolled down my cheeks. This granddaughter is a sweet girl and she is quickly growing into an amazing young woman.

I am also a proud mama, but unlike my daughter-in-law, I know how fast time passes. I know how quickly your precious little girl turns forty and has two children of her own. The awareness of what little time I seemed to share with my sons because it flew by and they became men, one expecting a grandchild of his own and one living hundreds of miles away with responsibilities that keep him absent from my daily living but never absent from my heart.

There is a quote out-there-somewhere that advises parents to "give our children roots and wings to fly."  

There are three adults in this world that I can say I did the very best i knew how to give them roots. We were a family-oriented family but there was so much more I could have done.  So many lost moments to instill in them how much they are loved, how much they belong, that no matter how far they travel my heart will always be a safe haven when they seek that bit of respite we all need now and then.

All three have beautiful wings. All three can fly, occasionally catching a thermal, rising and soaring. There are times when they lose the wind and drop out of the sky. They have hurts and bruises that can't be mended with a kiss and a Superman or Hello Kitty band aid. They always rise again, sometimes on their own, sometimes with the support of a loving spouse and at times with the help of prayer.

My oldest was born when I was 18 years old, my next baby came when I was 20 and by 21 all three were here with me.  A baby having a babies.  I didn't know I wouldn't have forever to tell them how much I loved them with everything in me. I didn't know how quick the days they would listen to me would fly by so quickly. More importantly, the times I should have been listening to them flew by even faster.

The most wonderful gift in the universe is being a mother. It is also the hardest challenge in the world. I don't mean "hard" in the sense of mid-night feedings, laundry, cooking, homework and getting them off to school on time. 

The hardest part of being a mother, the absolutely most difficult part for me, is trying to contain all this love I have for them in my heart. How does a women's heart not burst from the sheer immensity of joy and love and pride?  

John, Adam, Nicole. You make me believe in God because I know that I could not survive the overwhelming love I have for you three without God helping me carry it.

I want some of those childhood moments back. The moments when I ran past you to do some meaningless task instead of wrapping my arms around you. Those days when I got home from work and went crazy because some stupid chores might not have been done, those are the moments I should have cried out in joy that you were in my life and suggested we go for a walk or paint something crazy on a wall or have a picnic on the floor in the living room while you told me about your day and your thoughts.

No matter what, believe, with everything in you, that I am now and will always be a soft place to fall. Promise me that you will always remember:
I am proud of you. I honor you. I love you.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chasing Rainbows

Not only did we chase rainbows, we chased lightening, snowy mountains, mighty oaks in green fields.

Another Sunday in search of the perfect photo. We actually got all the way to Mt. Lassen, Whitmore,
Shingletown, raced through Redding to Whiskeytown for sunset and then realized that the sun was going to make it under the clouds. That means rainbows.

We chased rainbows into the north hills. The rainbows grew bright, saturated with color and then faded. A minute or two more and another bright rainbow would burst out. We would race to the best position to snap its picture and it would fade just as we got into position. We tried really hard to capture it but we mostly laughed at how silly we were and thankful our children were not witnessing our insanity. They have already threatened commitment hearings!

We hit all four directions, headed east, came back to valley following several southern roads. We hit the west mountains to try to take a picture of the gorgeous Sun Dog about Whiskeytown Lake. Then raced through the roads on the north side. Finally arriving home and racing to the computer to see who could upload their picture first.

I won and good thing, too. If I had seen Frank's photographs before seeing mine, I probably would have destroyed my memory card and returned to the kitchen to eat some ice cream. Jealousy is so bad for my cholesterol!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Deluge and Deluge

The sky opened the flood gates about half an hour ago. The rain seems as if it is being launched from the clouds as it is rebounding off the patio and pool cover with supreme gusto.

Great tidings for California and our drought.

This week has been a blue ribbon event for Frank, my personal meteorologist.

He has completed ground school to be a pilot and he is also a hang glider pilot. He lives for the weather. We have at least one weather instrument in each room, almost.  It is only in the bathrooms that one cannot read what the temperature is inside and outside or what the humidity is but not because  he didn't try! We just need to draw the line somewhere.

Typically, I am jubilant about the rain, hail, wind and lightening. I love chasing clouds and lightening for photo opportunities. I also enjoy just sitting and being in it.

Frank will be home in 48 minutes. He may kiss me hello but only because I am sitting in front of the second instrument in the room.  It is the most accurate and most diverse in this end of the house. First he will tell me how much rain we have had in the last 24 hours, the last 12 hours, which hour in the last 24 had the most accumulation of rain.  He will compare today to the rest of the week in precipitation. Then we will move on to wind speed, direction and gusts. Then we will discuss temperature. Interior and exterior and possibly pool temperature. He will be as excited as a kid with a new bike!

He will ask me if  I've watched TWC or the weather reports for tomorrow.  When I confess that I haven't, he will gaze at me as if I am one of those people who races to the beach when a tsunami warning is issued. Then a second of pity will flicker across his face as he remembers that I am one of those poor souls on earth that just passively observes the weather.

Tonight, when we go to the bedroom, we will replay the entire event. The weather instrument in our bedroom is substantially more precise, therefore, the details will be, well....detailed! Precipitation, year-to-date, will be added as well as any sun flares.

Rex, our Border Collie and I will sit on the bed, intently listening.

One might think this post is a complaint but it is just the opposite. I love Frank's enthusiasm about the weather, actually, his love for all-things SKY!  Weather, clouds, birds, stars, sun flares...all of it. It makes me happy to see him so excited.  In fact, almost every weather instrument he owns has been a gift from me.

Truth be told, Rex and I don't remember much of the presentations. Rain is rain as far as we are concerned!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Damn Scary Stuff

My daughter and her family rented a couple of DVD's and were having family movie night.

Shortly into the movie, they all started craving pizza. Not only were they craving it, they could smell it. She did some checking and found out that a company in Brazil has discovered a way to print the CD and DVD covers with ink imbedded with scent. As it heats up the room or car are filled with the aroma of whatever they want to sell the consumer!

Can you imagine the potential?

I could imbed the ink on my husband's science fiction movies with my me goose bumps.

Watching a zombie movie and the room fills with the coppery smell of blood.

A government documentary explaining why the middle class should pay more taxes while corporations and the top 1% get more tax breaks could fill the room with the smell of fresh baked apple pie....or, more aptly, a stockyard.

Yup, some scary shit!

Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Just Different

My husband and I are avid hunters. Nothing better than a good shot that hits its mark. Better still is that we don't need licenses or a specific season to hunt. We just need our Nikons, our tripods, various lenses and filters. We've also found that it is nice, but not necessary, to go on our little expeditions with a large soda and a bag of Bold or Traditional Chex Mix (reduced sodium, dang it!).

We spent six hours hunting on Wednesday and a little more than six yesterday. Both days were hazy and though we know better, we headed out at noon. The middle of the day is the absolute worstest (yes, I know) time to take pictures.

The drives and hunts were filled with joy and bits of adventure. We had some great conversations, a moment of contentious debate, even snuck a kiss in...or two. The weather was about as perfect as it can get, except for the haze, that is! Where is the north wind when you need it, huh?

I even caught my husband checking me that little rust colored blouse with just the right amount of "hey, the girls are here!"

We drove through the mountains on the east side of the valley. Hit a couple of our favorite spots and discovered a couple more. At each spot we would get out of the car, focus, click, click, click.   I occasionally finish first and go back to the car to read or to write; nibble on a little Chex Mix. I might just find a warm rock or downed tree to sit and be still. He is more adventuress, often venturing up the side of a mountain or down into a draw. If he detects the slightest sound that there may be falling water nearby, it becomes his mission to discover it. He is an explorer at heart.

We parked at several points where the entire north valley could be seen. Mt. Shasta, the Trinity Alps, the Sisiyou Range, Castle Craggs, the coastal ranges, south past Red Bluff and north all the way to what could possibly be Mt Bachelor in Oregon. On a clear day the photos would knock your socks off. We didn't even take the cameras out of the car. It was hazy and we were lazy! We just sat, immersed in nature and daydreams.

Six hours of being in nature. Witnessing the wild flowers and new green of spring, the rolling hills, steep granite cliffs and acres and acres of volcanic rock. Some of the creeks were dry rock beds, some had water rushing or  shallow streams gently making way to lower ground.

For every half hour of just "being" we have about 5 minutes of focus and click. The experience fills your spirit with an unimaginable juiciness of life; a prodigious love (and lust) for nature. I want my Nikon to record every marvelous scene, so I take this shot and that shot and another one for good measure. Horizontal, vertical; hell, I'd take it up-side-down if it would help keep the moment alive long enough to share the fullness of it.

This morning, I sit at the computer, hunched over.  The photos I took are flat, lifeless. Our eyes have the depth of field.  The spectrum of colors we see are so wide compared to the limited colors one exposure, at one setting can record; even on a Nikon!

But it isn't just that the image I see on the screen doesn't share the scents with you. It doesn't gently brush your cheeks with a hint of a breeze. There are no birds singing, no cows braying nor the knock, knock, knock of the woodpeckers, in that two dimensional image.The grace of the hawks and buzzards soaring in the thermals just at the ridges' edge is missing. You can't feel the energy of the people and animals and elementals who have passed through the very spot the picture was taken. You can't smell the soil or feel the warmth of the rocks.

This morning I deleted so many pictures that were lifeless, shallow and, quite frankly, boring, because there was no life in them.  As I deleted them though, I remembered the day, felt the feelings, smelled the smells. My gratitude for sharing such a beautiful day with my husband, for living in such incredible beauty fills my cup.

I am also deliriously happy that digital photography is a reality. Can you imagine having to wait for a week to get prints only to be disappointed with the results?  Wait, if I had them printed, like in the "old days," I could stimulate the memories again and again and again!

Help! How do I recover deleted files?  What ever happened to film and negatives????


Monday, March 17, 2014

Blind Leading The Blind

Forest Service in California used the term "Controlled Burn" in the recent past to describe one of the housekeeping tasks of the forest. Controlled would be the dominate term; informing the public that Forest Service is going out to clear some underbrush which would make forest fires of the uncontrolled type easier to contain, control, and manage.

These planned fires are now called "prescribed" burns. Of course, for you and I, just dumb regular Joe's that would make us believe that the forest doctor (Dr. Smokey?) is treating the environment for some type of illness.

Prescribed fires often ruin the environment, destroy food sources for wildlife, destroy wildlife and often, like the prescription drugs advertised on television, have other serious side effects.  Often the bulldozers used to create the "fire lines" cause incredible damage to the soil prompting erosion.

Some controlled fires develop authority issues, running amok. The Cerro Grande Fire in New Mexico burned 48,000 acres which included 280+ homes. In 2006 in California, the Sierra Fire jumped lines and burned 10,854 acres. 2012 "only" 103 acres were burned during the Creek Fire. The San Felipe Fire in 2013 went wild and destroyed 2,781 acres.

California released a plan ( Aug/2013) to burn (bull doze or spray with herbicides) over 38 million acres during the 2013/2014 period. That is one-third of the state and five times the normal area of forest housekeeping.

I know there is great controversy over this practice but isn't it weird how the verbiage is changed for public consumption? Makes the pill easy to swallow?

Oh, and the main reason for this post. Our local television station (Hi, KRCR)  reported that Forest Service announced there will be a "prescribed burn" in the Whiskeytown National Forest today. That report was followed up with the weather report which announced high winds today with gusts expected around 40 mph in the afternoon.

I wonder if Forest Service ever talks to Weather Service.

Good news; north winds today and I live east of Whiskeytown. I can go about my regular business. Muletown Road and Zogg Mine Road people, you might want to hitch your horse trailers up to your pickups and make sure grandma's china is packed.

Friday, March 14, 2014


In the early days of Internet, when all connections were dial-up, my son, Adam, would often tell me I had a 2400 bit brain but a 1200 bit mouth. Mouth just doesn't translate the message Brain cooked up.

He would tease me with, "Mom, your brain cuts checks your mouth can't cash!

(Have I ever mentioned that irreverence runs in the family? DNA!)

I just read over some of my posts here and realized that my editing skills quite often suck!

Epiphany # 1,396, 455: My fingers can't cash those checks either!

My promise: I will read all posts 3 times before hitting the "Publish" button.  Wait! I gave up lying for!

Thursday, March 13, 2014


My friend, Michael, wrote a blog about rain recently. He entitled it "Rain" but it was truly much more about his own gentle and peaceful spirit. It could be the stillness inspired by rain that reacquaints us with our own nature. We are often restricted from that awareness when consumed with mowing, trimming, shoveling and other outside busy-work.

I, too, love the rain. Especially the first rain of the season. As the drops of water baptize the earth, the alchemy of the pairing creates the incredible smell that could never be mistaken by anyone, for anything. except "first rain".  The smell commands me to go sit on my rocking chair on the front porch and sniff and breathe and  relish in it. Just between you and me, it also commands me to grab a handful of newly dampened soil and eat it but I have been able to stand in my own power and resist that command for many, many, many years, mostly.

As I was telling Michael, too many days of rain can have awful effects on me. Remember the movie with the cute, cuddly furry animal that comes with 3 rules. Rule 1: Never feed after midnight.
Rule 2: Never get it wet. Rule 3:  hmm, I don''t recall rule 3 but it is probably something like: If you have broken rules 1 or 2, run like hell because cute and fuzzy just morphed into evil and dangerous!

I am much like those cuddly little critters, though you can get me wet and I love to snack after midnight. The scary part of me is that insanity lies just beneath the surface of my typically quiet nature. I also come with a set of rules but for the life of me, I cannot find the list. Surely one of the rules, closest to the top is to make sure that I do not go without sufficient sunshine and warmth during the tail end of winter.

Unlike the fuzzy little critters movie, I'm going to tell you what will happen if my spirit is deprived of sunshine for too long a stretch. First clue that melt down is happening, I pull on 3 layers of sweaters and insist on wearing pajama bottoms all day. (If you come to my house at 2:30 p.m. and I answer the door in blue, plaid flannel and have shoulders like a linebacker, RUN, do not hesitate, do not look back).

Second clue is that giant V between my eyes, though you shouldn't have stayed long enough or gotten close enough to observe it if you had paid attention to rule 1.  Rule 3 is pretty much too late because my hands will be around your neck and you will be flailing!

Just a side note: It really is a mystery how arthritic hands, which do not have the strength to open a gallon jug of green tea for 11 months of the year, can suddenly develop the fortitude and vitality of the Hulk during an overdose of precipitation.

Patrick Henry is credited with saying, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death." One of the many quotes that I may be remembered for will be "Give me Sunshine or I Keeel you!"

When the sun does shine but it is still too cold or windy to leave the comfort of my home you can often find me laying on a quilt, with or without a pillow, in a sunny spot on the floor. It's not as effective since we replaced all the windows and glass doors in the house but it still does the trick.
That also explains why we no longer have cats; too much competition for the sunny spots.

Now, remember the monster that you might meet at the front door on a rainy day in late March. If you walk into the house and see me stretched out in a sunny spot on the floor, it is your lucky day.
All I care about in that moment is the warmth spreading through my body, down, down, down to the bone.

"Honey, I totaled the car!"
"That's nice."

"Hey, I got fired today!"
"That's nice."

"Babe, gotta pack, there's a tsunami headed our way!"
"That's nice."

It is March 13. It is 72 degrees outside and I have a new book! And? 

You got it! That's nice!