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!

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!

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!

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????


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.

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!

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!

March 06, 2014

Imagination vs Imagination

Wednesday matinees at the dollar theater, one of my favorite events next to Christmas and possibly, the 4th of July.

Yesterday didn't disappoint. We saw Saving Mr. Banks. Almost 24 hours later and my eyes are still swollen from crying, yet, I loved it.

If you haven't seen it, I will not give it away, but it is a wonderful story about two magnificent imaginations in conflict with each other.

One imagination is wide open and over the top; the letters in imagination free-floating through space, needing every bit of one's resourcefulness to keep the letters, i   m    a   g i    n   a   t i o    n   in order (dare I venture there may have been bits of fairy dust floating amongst the letters).  The other wound up so tight that the pressure could have forcefully extruded one of the letters from the word "imagination" and popped someone's eye out! Right out, quicker and more efficiently than Ralphie's official Red Ryder, carbine action, two hundred shot range model air rifle!

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time or know me personally, then you know that my favorite thing in the whole world is imagination. My favorite hobby is imagining. Imagination is not my favorite word, only because it is not as fun to say as Phosphatidylcholine, but it is my second favorite word because of the possibilities it invites.

At one point in the movie, Mr. Disney is sitting on a settee, sipping tea with a bit of scotch in it and says, "....Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again."

You can't know how those simple lines touched my heart and my soul. I have been digging deep into the libraries of my mind, every dusty little corner, but I cannot find the words to describe how those words, placed in that order have made my spirit soar.

To be granted the gift of storytelling is an incredible blessing. To see the sparkle in the eyes of the listener (or imagine it in the eyes of the reader) when they realize that riding the moon and sliding down rainbows is a possibility. That climbing under the bridge and befriending the dragon is not only achievable but expected. When one's stories open the world up to the potentiality of flying with eagles and swimming with mermaids then it empowers the reader to know that anything they can imagine, they can accomplish.

All of the greatest accomplishments in our world started with imagination and a story of how it might be.  Imagination and stories will continue to inspire greater accomplishments "again and again and again."

March 05, 2014

Are You Talking About Me?

 I wrote last week about conversations I would like to participate in and where my imagination believed those conversations should know, setting the mood, making the most of all our senses to heighten the experience!

Not wanting to brag, but I have one hell of an imagination! Years of intense practice! Yet, I never imagined the conversation that really did come to pass last week.

It occurred in a Starbucks, scent of brewing coffee filling the room, rain pounding the pavement outside. People coming and going in all manner of dress. Conversation is mostly business, covering a service project we have been working on for about a year.  We've worked together on other projects over the last couple of years.

I have beau coup respect for the speaker; intelligent, successful, spiritual...the list goes on. During the conversation he says, "Toni, you are brilliant!"

That felt good! I said, "thank you for saying that..."

"No," he interrupts, "you really are brilliant! You are intuitive, you are talented and you know how to connect-the-dots! You are brilliant!"

Damn, that felt good!

March 01, 2014

Destination Or Journey?

Photo Courtesy of
Lead singer of Aerosmith, Stephen Tyler once stated "Life's a journey, not a destination!"

Life is, truly, a journey but aren't you occasionally filled with joy (or dismay) when you find yourself standing at what could be considered a temporary destination, a weigh station in life? Maybe more appropriately called a "way" station!

Study the path above. Is it possible that it could exist not only as a path but also be a destination?

Perception is so much of our life, our travels and passages.

Feel yourself standing at the spot the photographer stood.

Are you looking at the path yet to travel, wondering where the violet road leads; what could be around the next bend?  Or do you visual it as a path you have already traversed? Are you looking back at where you've come?

Is it only the road you perceive and the miles ahead, the miles behind, or do your senses fill with the beauty and mystery of each step you take.

As you walk the path, do you only observe your shoes as they take each step? Or are you present; wondering how the light and earth and unseen angels took an ordinary dirt path, changing it into a magical road of violets and lavenders? Do you open your soul to the energy of the souls who have traveled the road before you or who have yet to traverse?

Each day we have the opportunity to walk the mundane paths of our lives or travel magical paths. Each moment with it's own nuances and numinous aspects that have the capacity to stimulate all the senses. Imagine you are in the den, reading a good book or watching a TedTalk on the Ipad and discover the coffee cup next to you is empty. Do you refill it with a trip to the kitchen as a short trip of two points or do you experience the whole journey? Do you notice the family pictures on the wall, smell the rain outside, feel the carpet on your feet, touch the wall remembering choosing the color with your partner?

Whether you drive your own car, carpool or ride a bus on your daily commute, do you focus on what you know or imagine is awaiting you in your inbox at your desk, the calls you'll need to make, the notes you need to make for that conference in the afternoon or do you notice the swallows have returned or the bright blossoms of crocus peeking out of the snow?

When you are mowing your lawn on Saturday afternoon do you march back and forth. keeping those lines straight? Have you already crossed this job off the to-do list as you think about the run to the hardware store to pick up the items needed for other tasks or do you smell the newly cut grass, feel the sun caress your face?

As you are pulling and tugging at the overgrown Vinca for spring cleanup, you see Mr. Young walking out to check his mail, do you quickly wave and return back to the grind of tugging and pulling or do you notice that your neighbor is walking slower than usual, has a little shake in his hands. Maybe you could take a break and invite him over for an ice tea and a little conversation...that Vinca really isn't going anywhere but what if Mr. Young doesn't make that walk tomorrow?

Look at the picture again. Where could it be taking you or from where has it brought you? In your daily life are you a numbered dot; living for the destinations or are you the lines between the dots; enjoying the journey? If you live your life in little dots, little destinations, do you think you are getting the whole picture?