May 29, 2011

A Random Thought.....Rutabaga! Seriously?

Rutabaga...root bag! Isn't that what you would call your little brother when he has annoyed the hell out of you for the million-teenth time?  How could this be something you would want to invest time in cooking let alone putting it on your plate or serving it to company?

Poor vegetable. It not only has one of the worst names but it looks bruised and beaten. It is a cross between cabbage and a turnip....really? God, were you really tired the day you invented the rutabaga?  You even hid the poor thing underground!

In Scotland this root bag is called a "neep" and in England (hold the respect) it is a "snaggers". Yum...not!
But then, the Brits call beets "mangelwurzel"!

 Uh...please pass the carrots!

May 28, 2011

Thunder.....oh yeah

Thunder thunder
rumble and roar,
close the windows
and lock the door.

Do you remember this poem from grade school?  Close the windows and lock the door?  Not at our house. 

We are a household that throws open the doors and windows.  We watch and we wait.  We count moments from flash to rumble. Eyebrows raise the closer it gets!  All the better if the hair on our arms and neck stands at attention while the goose bumps race to the top of our heads.

"Open the doors. It is warm;
And where the sky was clear--
Look! The head of a storm
That marches here!
" (Mark Van Doren)

Thunder, glorious to some, damn scary to others.  Gather the candles! Where is that flashlight?
Don't answer the phone...(in the old days of land lines...the lightening could get you). Get out of the tub or the shower!

No fear here. Thunder is therapy. It's rumbles cleanse. The sudden burst of light in the lightening, the salvo, growling low and building as it nears, purging sins and wounds from heart and soul.

"The farthest Thunder that I heard
Was nearer than the Sky
And rumbles still, though torrid Noons
Have lain their missiles by --
The Lightning that preceded it
Struck no one but myself --
But I would not exchange the Bolt
For all the rest of Life ..." Emily Dickenson

Have you ever made a declaration and a sudden clap of thunder attests that, if not God, 
at least the heavens above are in full agreement?  Ah, synchronization of heaven and earth, 
truth and faith!

Did you know that you can make thunder?  We have all done so at one time or another and
 don't even know that we have mimicked Zeus or Thor or even Chaac, the Mayan god of thunder.
Blow up a small paper bag and then pop it. Bang,  the air inside has expanded quickly, 
just as it does when it is heated by lightning. 

Same principle but gods do things so much bigger!

May 27, 2011

Married 27 Years

My husband and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary yesterday.  It was a joyful celebration.

Like any couple we have had our up and downs but truly more ups and the longer we are together the ups just keep coming.

I met Frank over 30 years ago. I was an Information Specialist (Tour Guide) for the Bureau of Reclamation at Shasta Dam, he was a Hang Glider Pilot. At the beginning of a tour one hot afternoon, while standing on top of the dam a big shadow sped across all of us and we heard a shout, "Look up!"

We looked up and there was Frank, gliding over the dam, using the lift from the heat off the concrete. He looked like a giant blue caterpillar, hanging from his glider. Ever the photographer, he had a camera attached to the far side of a wing.

Well, no one wanted to hear about Shasta Dam, or the Central Valley Project or anything, except the Hang Gliders and their pilots for the rest of the tour.  "Where do they launch?" "Where do they land?" "Who are these daredevils?" "How do you get to the launch?" "Do they ever land in the river?" The rest of the tour was all about hang gliding.

Later, that afternoon, I was sitting in the tower, a highly coveted spot for us tour guides, away from the politics of the visitor center. I was reading a book that had been passed from one guide to another, a little bit of a no-no, but sometimes you could sit in the tower for hours and never have any one come in to ask about the next tour or the dam.

In walks this very nice looking man. I quickly put the book on my knee and then pushed it up against the bottom of the table, holding it by keeping my foot on its toes.  He came in and told me he was the pilot who flew over my tour. He sat down across from me and we started to talk. After about 5 minutes, he smiled and told me, "You can take that book out from under the table, your leg is getting shaky!"

He was very nice. He was interesting. He was a City of Redding fireman. We talked a little longer and then he left.

A week or two later he came back, but this time he had a friend with him, this time he had an audience and this time he was a jerk! Yup, a jerk.

He came in many more times while I was working there. When he was alone, he was very nice. I enjoyed our visits.  Whenever he came in with one of his cohorts, if I caught sight of them before he came into the visitor center, I would usually grumble to my fellow guides, "I'm going in the back, call me when this jerk leaves!" The rest of my tenure at the dam, I avoided him if I could.

Shortly after being riffed from the Bureau, I was hired by a home health agency.  I was spinning blood for hematocrits at a local health fair.  I looked up from the spinner and saw a vaguely familiar looking man standing in line at another booth.  God's honest truth, he was in color and everyone else in my vision faded to  shades of gray. I do tend to see people's auras but this was different.  Way different!

He was looking at me. When he saw that I was looking at him, he turned his attention back to the line he was in.

I was intrigued! How could it be that he was in full technicolor and everyone else had faded into a colorless background?  I still remember what he was wearing, white linen trousers, royal blue yoked t-shirt and a royal blue zip-front sweatshirt, Everytime I looked up, I caught him watching me. Then he disappeared. I was sad.
Who was that man?

Maybe half and hour later, he was standing at our booth, signing his name and medical release. I walked over to him.

"Hi, I'm Toni, You probably noticed that I was watching you when you were standing in that other line," I said. "but I noticed that you were looking at me too!"

"No, I wasn't!" was his response. No, I wasn't? No, I wasn't? I have no time for this guy, sign from god or not!

"Well, then screw you!" I shrugged my shoulders and walked away.

"Wait, wait!" he said with a look of shock on his face! "I was looking at you!"

We drew his blood and while it was spinning,  we talked. We have been talking ever since.

He asked me out for dinner. I advised him  that he really didn't want to date me. "I have three kids," I told him, "They go where I go and usually a couple of their friends, so wherever I go I usually have about six kids with me!"

"I'm the oldest of 10!" he answered.

I discovered over the years that he is passionate about all-things-sky, clouds, weather, birds, stars. He is passionate about photography. He is passionate about science and technology. He is a deeply spiritual and religious man, a devout catholic. He loves our grandchildren more than life itself and never passes up the opportunity to teach them something or to let them know how proud of them he is and how much they are loved. He has a photographic memory for numbers and science, but, can't remember anyone's name to save his life. He does not believe he knows it all, he reads and reads and reads. I believe he wakes every morning, looking forward to what he may learn this day!
Resting at landing site after a flight.

He is my best friend. It is a good feeling, to know that you are loved and cherished, and he makes me feel that in many ways. He is romantic, he is funny, he is sexy, he is passionate, he is Frank.  I love him. I am looking forward to the next 27 years with him.

May 15, 2011

Trinity Lake

Don't you just love the mountains?  The sounds of the wind blowing through the pines, the call of the osprey as it glides through the sky, the smell of pine, forest soil rich in its own mulch and, mostly, the smell and energy of adventure!

I was born and raised in Colorado and spent many, many days in the Rockies. Camping near a creek or river, sitting on a big rock watching my dad fish, running through the woods with my sister and brother. Now I live in Redding near the Sacramento River so I am surrounded by mountains on three sides. Though I can see them everyday it just isn't the same as being in them, part of them, in their mystical energy.

Pretty often my husband and I pack the car with our cameras, a quilt and pillows, lunch, color pencils and drawing pad and head off into the mountains for our fix!

Yesterday, we drove into the west, on Highway 299, headed for Trinity Lake. Not a spectacular day for photography with the cloud cover and wind but a great day for sweethearts to just drive and talk and be.

Trinity Lake is a man made lake, doesn't matter though, its gorgeous. Surrounded by tall trees, marshes and wonderful mountains, it invites one to sit still and be a part of it. "Join me in my celebration of life," it invites you with the whispering of the trees and the waves lapping against the shore.

Trinity Dam was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in the early 60's, maybe finished in 1964, if I remember correctly.  The lake was originally named Trinity Lake and later changed to Claire Engle Lake after the U.S. Congressman and Senator.  Born in Bakersfield and grew up in Red Bluff, Mr. Engle loved the northstate.

He lost his voice due to a brain tumor and still fought, without a the aide of speech, the building of nuclear power plants in San Francisco. Even though the name of the lake was officially changed to Clair Engel, it didn't catch on. The people of Trinity County are total mountain people and, by god, no one is the boss of them. They stuck to the name Trinity Lake and today it is once again, Trinity Lake.

I think there are about 147 miles of shoreline, though it might be 127, still substantial but way smaller than Lake Shasta which boasts 365 miles of shoreline.  I have often wondered what it would be like to take a year and hike the lake, one mile per day!  I know myself though and am sure I would find a nice beach or nice inlet and stay 5 days and make it up on the 6th day! 

We've camped on the shores of both lakes many times, skied on the waters in the hot summer and sang and laughed around campfires at night.  While camping at Trinity, my husband and I kidnapped a pair of Seattle Seahawk sweatshirts from some friends.  My sister and I photographed the poor sweatshirts in all manner of degradation, sleeping in the doorway of the bus station in the middle of the night, sitting at a dive bar with empties all around, hitchhiking along the road in the bad side of town! We sent the photos to the owners with a ransom note...I don't remember how the sweatshirts were returned but I don't believe the ransom was paid. Our Seahawk friends remained Seattle fans and would not come over to the dark side, the black and silver of the Raiders.
Yesterday, we parked at the side of one of the marshes. Binoculars and cameras in hand we hiked around, discovered wildflowers bursting in color here and there, birds galore flitting about and watching us. One osprey whistled as it soared above our heads. A little family of Canada Geese floated by. They, too, watched and studied us and we studied them.

We found a pine cone that had been completely dismantled and all the nuts broken open, little chew marks here and there.  Deer tracks, raccoon tracks..."Frank, is this a bear track?"

Back in the car we drove further until we found the campground we shared so many wonderful memories with good friends. We stopped, wandered around the shoreline, remembering the breakfasts around the fire, cold mountain air, a big cup of coffee sweetened with a large portion of Baileys or Emmetts.  Is anything better then smelling the smoke from last night's fire in your hair and clothes? Looking across the fire and seeing friends, sleep still in their eyes, bed hair and smiles!

All alone in the campground we even did a little making husband is a really good kisser!

It was a good day!

May 09, 2011

A Mother's Heart

Being a mom is the most precious blessing in the world. Having a mom is the second most precious blessing in the world. There are those blessings though that come with pain, an agony so deep that only death can relieve it, maybe. Maybe the burn is that it stays with you after death, maybe hell was designed from the wounds of a child who had not felt a mother's love. Maybe the architect of hell was a mother whose anguish came from feeling the disdain of her child, a child she has loved more than life.

My dear friend Mitch told me an old Serbian story, a story that defines a Mother's love. I'd like to share it.

There was an old woman who had raised her children. They had all left home and made lives for themselves. Some lived near and some lived far.

Her oldest son, who loved her dearly, still lived close by, just a short walk through the forest. He visited his mother often. Taking her cheese from the village and sometimes bringing in wood for her fire. His wife really didn't like these visits. She felt that it took time away from her. She really was quite jealous of his mother. She could not understand love that was without conditions, love that was without boundaries.

When the son would come home from visits with his mother, bringing a fresh loaf of bread from his mother's oven or a small jar of his mother's jam, the wife would become hysterical.  She would demand that he throw the bread out. She would accuse him of loving his mother more than her.  

The young man tried all that he could to prove to his wife how much he loved her. He stopped going to his  mother's house for visits at his wife's insistence. 

He still had to hunt in the forest near her home. When he would return home with a dove or a rabbit his wife would accuse him of visiting his mother's home. "But you were in the forest near her home!" She would scream.  He stopped hunting in the forest at his wife's insistence.

Walking down the village lane, shopping at the open market, the man and wife happened along his mother as she traded some eggs for cheese.  The young man wrapped his arms around his mother and gave her the biggest hug. His wife lifted her skirts and stormed off towards home.  

"You love her more than me!" the wife ranted at her husband when he returned home.
"Sweetheart, I love you! You are my wife. She is only my mother." The young man tried and tried to make her understand the difference between the love of a mother and the love of a wife. She would have nothing to do with it.

"Prove your love for me!" she demanded.
"Anything,  my love, anything!"

Kill your mother and bring me her heart.  He could see how intent his wife was.  If he didn't commit this abominable deed he would lose the love of his life.  He agreed.

He went to the village and bought a big wheel of his mother's favorite cheese and fresh strawberries that his mother loved so much.  He presented the gifts to his mother and when she turned her back to prepare some of the berries and cheese for her son he drove a knife into her back. 

He wrapped her heart with the scarf from her head and placed the bundle into his leather pack.  Headed straight home to present the bleeding heart to his wife, tears streamed down his face. The dark of the forest and the tears made it difficult to see the path. He begin to walk faster and faster. He was almost running when his foot caught on a root and flying he went. 

His face and knees and hands were skinned and bleeding, thorns and pebbles embedded in his palms and his knees. His mother's heart flew from the satchel, unrolled from the scarf as it bounced, coming to rest at his side. Gently, the heart whispered, "Are you okay, my son?"

May 07, 2011

When Our President Said, "I Did It"

One of my friends changed her status on Facebook. "Bin Ladin is dead."

What? I ran to the living room where my husband was reading the newspaper.  I turned on the tv and, wow, it was everywhere. Depending on what channel we watched the story was different.  I remember when I was a kid and watched the news, it seemed that news had to be confirmed before it was reported, but today, any rumor is reported as factual. the clowns that report the news were reporting it all,  "Huge shoot out," "Been dead for over a week" etc.

The President comes to the screen. He confirms that, finally, Osama Bin Ladin, the evil architect of 9/11 is dead.Was killed just hours earlier. In his speech he used the word "I" several times.  The final order to "Go" came from him. Ultimately, the decision to kill OBL came from our President.  The Ultimate responsibility was President Obama's.

Oh the backlash!  "he's taking credit, must be an election year," "boy is our president taking all the glory," everything from A to Z.

Then came the confirmation of Bin Laden's death from Al Qaeda and with that confirmation came the promises of retaliation and revenge. 

When our president stepped onto that platform and said, "I did it" he knowingly placed a huge target on himself and his family.  Could you do that? If you had two precious little daughters and a beautiful wife who have to live in the world, would you get on national tv and announce to the bad guys that you are responsible for killing their leader?

Would you be prepared to carry that target for the rest of your life?  Al Qaeda is an extremist terrorist group. We all know what they are capable of.  Do you have the courage to do what Mr. Obama did?

May 01, 2011

A Prayer for May 1, 2011


I did not write this and don't know who did but I thought I would share it.

Audio, Video, Disco

Did you take Latin in high school?  I did. I was headed for college for pre-med and my counselor advised me to take German and Latin.  German was fun, Mr. Allen, my teacher was a hoot but we will leave Mr. Allen for another day, another blog.

Latin class, however, was very...well, difficult! Not the learning of Latin but being in a public school with a teacher who was also my catechism teacher at St Lucy's Catholic Church. I was a little bit of a disruptive student in religious class, asking many, many questions. When I showed up in Mr. Loring's latin class I am sure I saw his head shake and might have even heard a little prayer escape from his lips, "Why me, God?" 

I did receive an A in the class but it was an uphill battle all the way....I did not take a second year of Latin! But I most definitely continued my catechism classes.

I discovered that Latin is fun though.  I especially love Latin mottoes. Latin adds a touch of sophistication, a distinguishable aura to a phrase. Can you imagine the Captain of a ship, standing at the helm, sword in hand, demanding obedience from his sailors, "A Mari Usque Ad Mare?"  Captain Jack Sparrow is the sexiest pirate "from sea to sea" but A Mari Usque Ad Mare makes one forget about the poor hygiene, me thinks!

For all of you who think that we are not a Christian Nation, a quick peek at the dollar bill should change your mind.  Latin phrases on it are sprinkled all over our currency.  Other than "In God We Trust"  there is the phrase "Annuit Cœptis",  literally translated, "He approves of the undertakings"! Some may certainly argue that may mean has approved but no one disagrees with who the He is.  It definitely wasn't King George!  Of course, adding the national seal with it's "Deo Favente" (with God's Favor) seals the pun intended!  By the way, speaking of the National Seal, there is also the word "Perennis" at the bottom of the pyramid which means Everlasting. That would seem to imply that God approves the undertakings forever.  Hmm, I bet He's not very happy with us at the moment. 

Surely, you have all heard Carpe Diem! Seize the Day! Get out there and do it! Live! The phrase, I believe came from Horace and the whole phrase is Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – "Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future."  My take on that? Drink your wine today folks, there might not be a tomorrow!

In the Gospel of John, verse 8:32, John pens Veritas vos liberabit or Veritas liberabit vos.  "The truth shall set you free." Especially, if you listen to me and drink your wine today!  Doesn't have to be wine! How does one say, Eat your Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia today, there might not be a tomorrow!

Nec Temere, Nec Timide  translates to Neither rashly nor timidly and is the motto of the Royal Danish Naval Academy and the University of Edinburgh.  It reminds me of Dylan Thomas' poem. 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, 
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, 
Do not go gentle into that good night.

We all call our old school or university our Alma Mater. Did you know that means Nourishing Mother?
Wish I'd had one of those; nourishing mother, that is, not a university! Speaking of mother, I believe her motto could have been, "Conlige suspectos semper habitos" "Round up the usual suspects!" Just ask my brother and sister!

Want to be your very best? Your motto could be "Ad alta" - To the summit!  Maybe you are a little learning challenged you might adopt the call, "Ad astra per aspera" - To the stars through difficulty!  But then again, why ask for trouble, shorten your motto to "Ad astra"- To the stars. Short, Sweet and can be embroidered on your baseball cap!

How many professors have had this little adage on their desks, or at least wished they had it? "Disce aut discede"? Learn or leave! 

"Audio, video, disco." Believe it or not, this is a famous Latin adage - I hear, I see, I learn. Now that is just wrong! It seems to me the interpretation should be I rock, I play, I dance! My argument that Latin is not a dead language but a language that is adapting!

My personal favorite? Aut viam inveniam aut faciam! Translation: I will either find a way or make one! Yes, one can fit a square peg in a round hole!

And you? What are you thinking of my little blog today? Are you thinking "Non Gradus Anus Rodentum!  Not Worth A Rat's Ass!