October 29, 2013

Some Things Are Sacred

When we were kids, our family would head Into the mountains for day trips or weekend camping. I'm talking Rocky Mountains, so the drives were marvelous, the scenes bigger than big, especially in the eyes of small children.

We moved to California as older kids, still not middle school age. We packed everything we owned into a small U-haul trailer and drove; over the Rockies, through the Great Salt Lake Desert, the uninspiring blandness of Nevada, the Sierras, theCentral Valley of California and finally, the Bay Area.

Once settled in California, our family continued our weekend trips. We visited beaches, mountains, rivers, cities and missions.

Throughout all our drives we had a great family tradition.  Some mothers would be appalled but it was sacred to us.

While we traveled we never pulled into a drive-thru for fries and burgers. We carried our own feast! We made the Young Family Sacred Sandwich!   White bread (preferably Wonder Bread), bologna and potato chips.  Oh em gee, they were the best. We loved them. We were never allowed those sacred sandwiches at home but on the open road we sang, we laughed and we feasted!

My husband and I are photographers and October is our special "snap-a-thousand pictures" month. We live for October.  We drive everywhere, cameras, lenses, filters, we pack it all.

Last week as we scouted the mountains west of Redding, I remembered the joy I experienced on those rides as a kid. I was tiring of bananas, soda and spice drops (be careful here, fair warning).

I asked my husband to stop at a little store and purchase those golden ingredients.

He returned with Wonder Bread, bologna and Corn chips!  Really!

Have you ever wanted to row a raft through Colorado River rapids but ended up sitting on a curb with your bare feet in the runoff from your lawn sprinklers?


October 28, 2013

Something's Watching!

Sunday was a beautiful day. The sun was glorious. It's the end of October.  Knowing the aspens in Lassen National Park would be shed of their bright leaves; stunning in white against the deep blue of the mountain sky, I jumped into the car with husband, cameras and my I-Pad.

The drive was simply gorgeous.

Sunday afternoons in Shasta County has 80% of the population screaming at  their televisions...Go Football!  My plan had actually been to stay in pajamas, watching a game or two myself. The day had other plan!

We made the drive To Lassen Park in record time.  There  were only three other cars on the road not counting ours us; two going in the opposite direction.

In the park, we head for Devastation Area. Once there, a short hike down the south side of the hill next to the parking lot will take you to a lovely cluster of Aspens.

The wind was cranking; gusts almost knocking me over.  I don't usually shoot with a tripod so after a half hour of incredibly blurry shots of Mother Nature, I called it quits.  Die-Hard-Tripod-Sportin'-Husband continues hunting for the perfect picture.

I climb back into the welcome warmth of our car, clicked on the IPad and begin reading one of my 800+ books.

Our little Malibu was facing Mt. Lassen's peak. It was the only car in the parking lot.The sun gently warming the interior. I was alone. Cozy, indeed.

I begin to read a Terry Pratchett novel, one of his Discworld series.  After a chapter or so, my neck started to get that not-quite-an-itch itch. You know, the one where you could swear you are not alone and the "one" making you "not-alone" is watching you.  I looked around.

Just me, mountain, rocks, ash and trees. Tried to shake off the heebie-jeebie bumps on my neck. I continued to read.  My neck whispered to my scalp, a bad habit the two of them have, being neighbors as they are. My scalp starts to get that prickly feel, hinting that we might possibly have company.

Honestly, I tend to listen to Scalp just a tad but more than Neck.

I look around again, a little deeper into the shadows this time. I start the engine and ease the window on the passenger side up, just in case a hungry mountain lion tries to squeeze in.  Another quick peek around....nothing....back to the book.

A couple of pages later my toes are shouting to me the way only toes can!  I am not alone.

I listen to Toes, they have never been wrong.

Supremely failing to appear nonchalant, just short of a 360-exorcist type my head swivels, scanning the surroundings. No one.

Okay, a couple of little birds and a squirrel but my toes have never been bothered by birds or bushy-tails.  A couple of not-so-nice grumbles about my die-hard photographer husband's continued search for photographic excellence escape my lips.  Doors locked, window zipped all the way up, I try to focus on the book.

Oh, Oh!  Neck, scalp and toes! Goose-bump City!

Jumping out of my seat, I see it!  I am being watched! Right there in my IPad is the transgressor's reflection! It is staring right back at me! Green, like an ogre and at least 60 feet tall, it is humongous; as big around as my car!  A behemoth Douglas fir has silently, gently been sneaking up to my car.

I don't often use the word frantic, but, as I frantically turn my head (what the hell) I realize that the heuristic tree is not alone. She has several Lodgepole Pines and a Cedar with her. The howling wind has blown away all trace of their tracks from the thick ash covering the ground.

I love trees but my tolerance for sneakiness is, basically, non-existant!

I threw the car door open. (Well, I opened the door and the wind yanked it away from me but don't tell the trees.)

I jumped out of the car; feet apart, hands on hips!

"What is the meaning of this?" I yell to be heard above the wind.

Who would have guessed that such sneaky timber could be so shy?

Mute! Nothing!

"There will be no more of this tip-toeing around, do you understand? You scared the begeezus out of me!" It is hard to howl harder than the wind at the 6000 foot elevation but I believe those delinquent trees heard me.The hung their heads in shame, even though it was in the same direction as the wind, I am sure it was more shame than moving air that caused the droop.

I lift a foot to return to warmth of the car, their heads droop again, in impeccable unison. I tried to get into my little Malibu three more times; three more perfectly timed head drops. If trees were known for choreography, I would advise this group to catch the next lumber truck to Radio City Music Hall in New York City.They were good.

I reach into the car to shut down the IPad and the heads bobbed again, real low. I am well aware that trees, even evergreens, do not have knuckles, nor do they employ knuckles, but I could swear that I saw them do some knuckle dragging in that moment. Hmm!There seems to be a hint of sadness in their little droop, bob and drag dance.

My neck whispered a little message to my scalp. My ears, being large for my head and very efficient, picked up bits and pieces. My toes confirmed what I thought I heard.

"Do you want me to read to you?" I asked the swaying, droopy trees.

It could be a gust or two of wind but I swear they were jumping for joy, except that their roots never left the ground. I can understand that, as I've had a knee replacement and I, too, can jump for joy without my feet leaving the ground!

Really, you can't blame them. There is nothing like a good story and I bet they don't get read to a lot high up on that mountain. I don't imagine that squirrels, bears or mountain lions read much, not out loud anyway.  I'm not sure about Bigfoot's literary competence and that is a mystery I am willing to let remain a mystery.

I perched myself on one of the picnic tables after the trees promised to let me know if any of the aforementioned species should come up from behind me or for that matter, behind them.

"Except for the squirrels!" I said.

"Rabies!" said one of the trees in back (or could have been a Bigfoot), so I agreed that they should warn me about the squirrels, too.

The trees gathered around to protect me from the wind and I caught them up on what was happening in the story. Luckily, I was only two chapters in. I read. They listened. I believe the Cedar fell asleep.  There was a slight rumble from the back row.  I was hoping it was snoring and not the volcano waking up. The others listened intently. A giant Ponderosa  joined our group after he made me promise not to skip any pages.

In spite of the noise cause by a group of motorcycles zooming by made it necessary to repeat a paragraph, all in all, it was a very pleasant experience. The trees had problems with the words "artificial" and "Epicurean". There was a little philosophical banter regarding the definition of "artificial" but with a little prompting, we returned to the book.

The sun was starting to set. I knew it was fast approaching time to head home.

The park will be closed soon fir the winter, snow and all, but I promised to return in the spring with a book about Redwoods, maybe a story or two about enchanted forests (they love biographies). They absolutely didn't want any stories about Milkwood, apparently a dark, scary forest in Norse mythology. The Douglas fir said it would give her nightmares. She's not fond of science fiction.

Frank returned. I introduced him to the trees but, as they are known to be, they became shy. They really don't like to talk to strangers.

We drove off to take pictures of the mountain in the glow of the sunset. I waved goodbye to my new friends and they waved back.

October 27, 2013

Not Just A little Bit

I've been so thrilled for the past two weeks. The readership of this blog has soared.

One of my posts received 686 views, another 728 and the latest one on Trust had 128 views! 

Comments were still few but at least I was being read....

I love to write, it's almost an addiction. The writing is prime but it also feels so good to be read.

Well, color me stupid!

I haven't made the time lately to check the "big picture" of stats.  Today, I ventured past "Overview" and looked at "Traffic Sources".....excuse me while I puke.....! Shouldn't I feel better after spilling my guts?

I clicked on one of the referring sources.....PORN!  I clicked on one of the referring URLs.....More PORN!


I want to pressure wash my blog, right after I get out of the shower.

Do I make my blog invite only?

Do I sent a note to the NSA that it was by accident that I opened those two sick sites?

Do I close the blog and call it a nice run?

October 19, 2013


Dictionary.com is my friend.

To be quite honest before the internet, I always carried a dictionary and a thesaurus (in my little bag of pencils and pastels). Here next to me is my mostest, bestest book ever, an Etymology Dictionary. 

I am putting all these tools to work today!

For about 24 hours the concept of "trust" has been battering my brain.  How does one build trust and when it's stretched, or gone, does it ever return or does it keep one foot out the door. Maybe it comes all the way back in but finds a little room in your heart with an open window for a fast escape.

Is there such a thing as unconditional trust? 

If you are one of those brave few who know unconditional trust, may your trust remain unbroken.

Dictionary.com defines trust as a noun meaning "reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence...confident expectation of something; hope...a person on whom or thing on which one relies...the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted".

Trust is also an adjective, a legal element, which we are going to ignore today, because, quite frankly, my blog, my rules!

Moving on, "trust" becomes a verb. Words are really quite diversified when you think about it. "To rely upon or have confidence in someone or something; to believe."

Apparently the word "trust" first shows up around 1200, developing from the Old Norse word "traust" which meant "confidence".  

Makes you wonder what words were used to define trust prior to the 1200's?  Obviously, I can't imagine that humanity would have made it that far without trust and confidence.

Maybe, prior to 1199 A.D., when a brave soul headed into the dark of the forest, turned to see her friends behind her with thumbs up! Meaning, "hey, we've got your back"? Or maybe back then, thumbs up meant "hope you don't get eaten" or "we have confidence you won't get eaten but just in case you do, we'll wait here!"

Later in the 13th century those Old Norse dudes evolved the word into a verb, treysta, which meant  "to trust".  

Having a problem here with the "Old Norse" part of this whole deal.  Am I mistaken or is Old Norse 
just a polite way of describing the marauding, raping Vikings who were too old to participate in boys-night-out?

Sometime in the mid-1600's, two "ee"'s were added to the word trust to describe someone who had legal responsibility for another person's property. My book does not give any certain ethnicity or culture credit for this evolution of trust.  I bet my bottom dollar that it was some English man whose widowed sister just inherited a large estate, a forest full of deer and a small fortune. It may be those two little "ee"'s that prompted the concept of trust to take a nosedive.

In 1855, or so it appears, it became necessary to have another kind of trustee.  This one was a convict or prisoner who was known for displaying good conduct while incarcerated or participating in the Bond-Servant program. Heaven forbid someone mistake one trustee for the other, so the ee's were dropped and a y added. TaDa, Trusty. (doesn't say much for Boy Robin or other superhero sidekicks, does it?)

I would imagine the accent is on different syllables when distinguishing one from the other. Trust-EE or TRUST-y.

Is there a trust scale? You know, 1 to 10 or maybe, even, a rainbow-chart? Is that where the phrase true-blue came from? (Trust me, I will be looking that up!) May I also add that blue is only slightly higher than middle level trust, so when a friend tells you they are true-blue, keep an eye on them!

If there is a scale, what level should certain relationships maintain? 

Will the sun rise tomorrow? I'd give that a 10 or the bluest blue in my trust scales. Will I be there to see it rise? Hmm, I guess that's a 5; I just don't know. (ROY G BIV) My being here tomorrow is a green on the rainbow scale of trust. Maybe more towards the blue hues and a 5.5 because I am, after all, fairly healthy.

 Maybe the scale trust rises and falls depending on subject. I trust my granddaughters not to take my car for a spin even though the keys are very accessible (10-Violet). Same girls and accessible Oreos. Probability of cookies being in pantry in morning?  Orange? Yellow? 2?

How important is trust in a relationship?  Are there different types of trust that count more than others?  If you catch someone in a lie and call them on it, are you the bad guy? Maybe the other person "trusted" you to not notice or stay quiet. "Damn the boat rockers!"

So that brings us to "Honesty"! My buddy, dictionary.com, says, "uprightness and fairness, truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness. freedom from deceit or fraud" BUT...

...Etymology suggests the use of the word "honesty" begin in the early 13th century from French meaning "splendid, honor elegance"...uh...really? In the 14th century honesty evolved to mean "propriety of good behavior, good manners, virginity". 

(not going to say it....can't make me!)

It appears throughout most recent history, honesty had more to do with the appearance of being honorable than actually being truthful.  (Example: Congress, Senate, President, L.A. Police Department).

Okay, I get it. Honesty is about appearances. So trust must be about having confidence in how another presents himself or herself.  

Sixty-two frickin' years wasted on false expectations! What a Fool!

October 01, 2013

Look It Up




My vice of choice, well, not really by choice,  more like vice by birth. I inherited it.

I can't seem to shake it. It's like fly paper. The harder I try to shake it off the more you get on you.

Okay, to be honest, I really haven't tried to shake it. Not even on the day I got married, been married 4 times but only two husbands. Married the first guy twice..what was I thinking! Married the second guy twice, too, but our last ceremony was a recommittal (OMG..re-committal..boy, could I run with that one!)  At the ring part of the ceremony, with husband two, when the pastor asks, "What tokens do you have to show?" My husband and I look up at each other with love in our eyes and whisper to each other, "Tokens? Tokens? We don't got to show you no stinkin' tokens!"

(I just love him. For a good catholic boy he is pretty irreverent himself at times!  My husband, not the pastor!)

My sister got a tattoo this year. She and my grandson are Tatt-Buddies and got matching Mustang tattoos. (Fords, WTF! Mustang Sally and Mustang Sal! "Leave the gun, take the cannoli!")

I want a tat, too! (oops, slipped out!) I want a tattoo buddy like my sister but I'm having a hard time deciding on a meaningful tat. No Body wants to get a tat that doesn't mean something to them, at least, it seems pretty stupid to suffer the pain, scabbing and pay big bucks for it if there is no significance to it, don't you think?

I want it on my lower back, I believe the kids call that a tramp-stamp, but what do they know? They don't even talk to each other without using their thumbs and then it's all LOL, ROVLMAO, IDK, CYBL, TY,  etc. In a hundred years we will have lost our vocal chords but will be able to lift Dodge Rams with our thumbs!

So, back to my tat woes. I can't decide between the word PEACE in subtle rainbow shades or a menacing Glock with the words "Lock and Load" in a curly, frilly font. None of my friends want to be tat-buddies with me and that makes me sad. Of course, I am completely relieved because I don't like pain and I'll throw up if I drink enough to make it not hurt and I don't like throwing up either.

Ah, that's another problem I have, I digress! I'm post menopausal, digressing is a symptom, it snuck up on me. Back to the elephant in the room: irreverence.

I get in trouble because a person can be telling me something really serious but my face betrays me! Unbeknownst to me, it breaks out in a smile. Honestly, the compassion is there but the irreverence factor kicks in and takes over facial expression and body language.

For instance, a friend of mine had their car stolen from the Quizno's parking lot on Little Eureka Way. They locked it but it was hot so they left the windows open!  Seventeen irreverent (but classic) thoughts come into my mind, you know "two cans short of a case" kind of thoughts. I mean, who leaves a car parked on Little Eureka Way, let alone with windows down. I know it's Redding and the temperature was 3 digits high, but still, hit a drive thru and keep your car!

My mother-in-law has diverticulitis but every time she tells me about her symptoms the irreverence gene whispers things like, "Wow, that's pretty shitty!"

I call the irreverent part of me "Bill", I imagine him in worn levi's, white t-shirt and a pack of cigarettes rolled up in one sleeve of the t-shirt. He doesn't smoke because I would have to kill him and that probably wouldn't be good.  Who would take out the trash or clean the bathrooms? None of the rest of us in here want to be responsible for that shit....oops, see, smile....and I'm dead serious.

Is there a rehab for irreverent people?  Irreverence Annonymous?  "Hi, my name is Toni and I'm irreverent!"

I'm afraid of life without irreverence, to be quite frank. Without irreverence, I might get a case of relevance! Pertinence without impertinence, what kind of world would that be? If I lost my irreverence, people might take me serious and that's not a good creek to be up, with or without a paddle!

Besides, I don't really have a problem. I can stop being irrelevant any time I want!

Really don't have time for rehab anyway, I'm packing for a trip up De Nile river; need to take crocodile wrestling lessons, buy a pith helmet and some straw sandles so I can "walk like an egyptian".  I better get them cheap, too, because I don't want to be e-gypt!