May 31, 2014


Awesome start to the weekend.

Last night I attended a class at Crown Camera. Rob Santry, a butterfly expert and uber talented butterfly photographer (world reknown), taught the class. Boy does he know his stuff.

He told us last night that a new butterfly has been discovered in the United States and it is just a mile or two up the River Trail from us. It is so new it hasn't been named yet! It can only be found on the last two miles of the Sacramento River Trail down river from Keswick dam!

Stalking Butterflies on the trail!
He told us how to photograph butterflies, aperture, speed, knee pads.....yup, knee pads! He also advises elbow pads if you are up in the Trinity Alps or Sierras because of the rock and granite. Then he showed us some wonderful slides of the pictures he has taken. Wow!

We headed out to French Gulch this morning to stalk the little pretties and take our own photos. There were at least 30 people, not counting Crown Camera staff, Frank, Theresa and Dwayne.

Butterfly Photography demands a little groundwork!
Most of the photographers were using a macro lens. I declined a macro as I was there to photograph people. Taking pictures of people taking pictures! That's me.
It started off slow. Lots of butterflies but they just wanted to fly, the weren't much on landing. One of the instructors poured water from the creek on the ground to form a puddle.  Then the butterflies landed, here and there. Nothing to write home about, or for that matter, nothing to write in your blog about.
Frank Tona and Theresa Wood from Crwon Camera

We stalked and hiked and wandered. One of the instructors wandered up the road and came running back....Eureka! A new hatch this morning! We hit the mother lode of butterflies. I saw 13 varieties this morning but a small group of rabid photographers hiked up a trail and found several more varieties including one that is rarely seen, let alone photographed. The rabid shooters got it, those of us not into poison oak, mountain lions and heat stroke missed out....and that's okay!

I even scored a good shot!

Butterfly chat session

Who knew they were such party animals!

Ninja Photographer! She came prepared for anything!

May 29, 2014

Veggies....Who Knew

Better still....Veggies...Who Knew And Didn't Tell Me!!!

Its been a couple of weeks now that I have been practicing a vegetarian lifestyle. (Though I must confess that Monday we celebrated 30 years of marriage and I had Salmon and a wonderful salad with parmesan cheese...AND I LIKED IT!!!!) Salmon was Atlantic, no radioactivity...that we know of!

Eating vegetables everyday inspires one to investigate new recipes. Who knew there were so many ways to serve those tasty little non-carne substances!

Have you ever sauted ginger and garlic in olive oil then tossed in a big bowl of shredded cabbage? The recipe said to sprinkle with soy sauce before serving. Do you know how many days worth of sodium is in a tablespoon of soy sauce?  I substituted a little balsamic vinegar. Delicious!

Have you ever had fresh carrot/pear/ginger/sweet potato juice?  I could live on that alone!

Every morning I brew a pot of green tea and chopped ginger. I add the mixture to a pitcher of cold water and lemon slices, with a tablespoon of fresh ginger juice from the juicer.  Drinking Ginger/Green Tea all day is super refreshing and, as the say in so many commercials "It's good for you, too!"

I have lost at least 12 pounds. My scale is old and tired and I can step on and off and on again with a weight change, up or down, of 1 pound with each mounting of the platform. So I know it is at least 12 pounds. If I had my sisters scale I could claim 19 pound loss but her scale is 7 pounds off and my waist and I would know it was lying!

All-in-all, life as a vegetarian is pretty darn good.

Still filled with energy....Anyone want to dance? Think you can keep up?

May 22, 2014

Vegetarian?.....Who? Me?

Six most ugly words in the English language:

I don't want to be irreverent or trivialize the first five words but today I want to talk about Cholesterol! LDL, HDL, good cholesterol and bad cholesterol....ugly, ugly ugly.

For years I have been one lucky human being. I love steak, I love cheese and I love, love ice cream, cheesecake and macaroons. Every year my blood tests come back with glowing reviews. My BP is textbook perfect; almost always 120/80. One day it was 150/110 but it was taken (unfairly) right after I was weighed! Who does that to a human? Five minutes later my dr. took it again and it had dropped back down to 120/80.  

My cholesterol has always been pretty darn good, especially for an older, fluffy woman who loves Quesadillas and pork chops....."and bacon," she whispered softly. I did have a heart attack a couple of years ago but it was emotionally induced, not the result of physical condition.

I have been juicing almost everyday since January 1st. Fresh vegetable juice or fruit juice every morning for breakfast and lunch. Normal meal every evening. I was expecting my numbers to be neon, they would glow so much. They weren't.

Dr. says they aren't bad. Good cholesterol is right on, bad cholesterol rose, not to dangerous but substantially from where it had been!  She suggested putting me on lipid meds just to helps reduce the numbers!!!

Me on medicines that can cause 37 side effects, none of which are pretty or comfortable? Hell, No!

"What are my alternatives," I asked politely. I actually didn't verbalize the "hell, no," I just shook my head, which may come as a surprise to some of you who know me well. My brain cuts checks that my mouth cashes before I have a chance to deposit it in savings....I'm working on that!

"So," she tells me, "No meat, no dairy, no eggs!"

I can do without the meat, I think. I can do without eggs. NO CHEESE!!!! Shoot me!

She tells me that if I try it for 90 days, I will never want to eat meat or dairy or eggs ever again. I will be filled with energy. Fatigue will only be a word in the dictionary or the uniform of the military. She says I will lose weight, be full of energy, sleep better, feel better and (apparently, most importantly) my cholesterol numbers will return to pretty ones!

My husband says he'll join me on the new lifestyle (though he did say he was taking the dog for a walk and I saw his car back out of the driveway. Later, I discovered a Carl's Jr soda sitting beside the computer and western bacon burger wrappers in the bedroom trash bin. He had two fried eggs for breakfast yesterday with four pieces of toast (whole wheat) with butter. He ate all six of the left over Cheese Danish from the Book Club and last night, after dinner, he ate 3 slices of sourdough bread slathered with butter). We have always operated from different volumes of our own personal dictionaries. 

I do have to admit though that he didn't say he would join me.  His exact words were "What's good for the goose is good for the gander!" He just omitted the phrase "and then some!"

We go to the store, after plenty of research and stock up on veggies, fruits, oatmeal, green tea and ginger root, olive oil, black bean and walnuts.

It has been at least a week that I haven't indulged in any of the forbidden food items. I am taking my coffee black; good-bye Dutch Bros, I will miss you. (wiping tears from my eyes). I am eating oatmeal with bits of walnuts and dried cranberries for breakfast, still juicing every day. I am drinking freshly brewed green tea with chopped ginger root and lemon all day. Green tea and ginger are reported to increase metabolism by 20%, reduce cholesterol (bad cholesterol, bad cholesterol) and it tastes really good! We have salads and roasted vegetables for dinner.

Can I be honest with you? I feel great! I have so much energy, I sleep really good at night. I feel lighter...not in the way that I am losing weight but my body doesn't feel as heavy. I can walk down a flight of stairs without my new knee threatening to kung fu me to heaven (or hell).  

I don't miss meat. Okay, to be honest, we were at the movies yesterday and an advertisement for a hot dog jolted my brain for just a moment but it didn't induce saliva production. I'm thinking that's a good thing. I don't miss eggs but I can always make myself an egg white omelet but what's the point if I can't have cheese? I actually am not missing cheese either.

I noticed my jeans fitting a tad bit loose yesterday but I am not sure if they are the pair that are always a little loose or those other hey-one-person-at-a-time jeans with stretch denim.

How long do I have to be living like this before I can honestly make off-hand comments like, "No thank you, I'm a vegetarian!"  

This post is almost to the end. I am going to click on the little orange Publish rectangle on the upper right-hand corner, check my email and then...(drum roll) weigh myself. Wish I was at my sister's, her scale measures 7 pounds lite and I could use the inspiration. So wish me luck readers. 

Pray that I see a number displayed that will motivate me to drink some tea while I juice up my veggies. Pray, too, that the number doesn't scream, "Go the the freezer and get the box!"

May 19, 2014

Moo, Baa, La, La, La

In the old days, and I do mean "old days," the older women, the grandmothers and great grandmothers would council young mothers, mothers-to-be, in fact, mothers in general.

Women would meet and tell the young women what herbs to use to prevent conception and which ones to use to ease the pain of childbirth. Grandmothers would teach new mothers things like burping a crying baby before nursing so that air is not trapped under the milk causing colic or spitting up.

Grandmothers would take a crying baby from mother and encourage new mother to nap. Older women who have helped a hundred babies know to hold a baby with gas on it's tummy over your forearm. Baby straddles your arm, it's head in the palm of your hand and it's little tush near your elbow. Hold baby's head just a little lower than your elbow, tushie higher than head, while you gently rub the baby's tummy with your other hand. Gas, colic and crying will be gone in seconds.

The older women would have a woman in labor walk and squat, walk and squat, not lie in a bed hooked to tubes and monitors. A laboring woman does not need to see a graph with zig-zag lines off the chart to know how strong her contractions are. Lying on her back, strapped to a monitor makes labor last longer, is bad for baby and very, very uncomfortable for mom.

Older women, midwives and village healers did not  do emergency cesarean sections because it was convenient ( so they could get to that golf tournament or have the weekend off or because insurance pays more for C-section than natural delivery ).

Gatherings were on-going, all the elder women were available in the village at any time, night or day.

We've reduced the takes-a-village concept of community and dummied it down to a two hour baby shower. Five generations of women; women who have been there, eating cake and oh-how-cute-ing!

Not once did I hear someone tell either of the expectant moms how to prepare her nipples for the new baby nor did anyone share with them great positions to get into to help the uterus to fall back in place.

I totally enjoyed the shower. Good visits, good food, and the joy on the Mom-to-be's face was priceless. The baby has clothes for a year and diapers to last until baby buys her first car and needs the old rags to wash the car windows. But I missed the reverence for the event coming up, not just the birth of a baby and new mommy and new daddy but the introduction of a new human being and a new little family and the promise of  support from a community of people who will be there for them.

Over fifty women, young and old, sitting on hundreds of hours of wisdom and experience, sipping tea and talking about the weather, the rodeo and how long they were in labor and how big their babies were.

Wouldn't it be nice if experienced mom's invited young mom's to gatherings to share and nurture and support?

Damn! Great-grandchild #1 coming in a month and I just realized that I threw out all 32 of our sippy cups and thermo-spoons! At least I still have my Sandra Boyton books:

Moo, Baa, La La La
 "A cow says moo,  a sheep says baa. 
Three singing pigs say, la, la, la. 

No, No, you say, that isn't right!
Pigs say oink, all day and night.

Rhinoceroses snort and snuff,
And little dogs go ruff, ruff, ruff.

Some other dogs go, bow wow wow,
And cats and kittens say meow!

Quack says the duck, A horse says neigh,
Its quiet now....What do YOU say?"

May 15, 2014

Five Days of Dog Hair!

Do you know how much fur a border collie sheds in 5 days? Five HOT days?

To quote Usher, "Oh My Gawawawawd!"

Fur, fur, fur. The rug in the family room is black with dog hair. Our bedroom floor is black with dog hair. The rug in the entry is black with large clumps of black dog hair.

I couldn't care less!

We visited my mom and dad on Mother's Day, then jumped in the car, headed to Soquel. We spent Sunday evening and Monday with my sis and niece (and various characters who swung in and out her revolving doors). Every one feels comfy at my sister's house.

Excellent time. Always hard to leave her home.

We jumped into car and headed south on 101. Oh my gosh, it was such a beautiful drive. I made Frank drive to San Luis Obispo. Just north of SLO is a steep down grade and my brakes do this weird thing, even in second gear. Once we passed the steep grade, I took over the driving.

I should always drive anyway, not that Frank is a bad driver....I just drive better!!! (Just kidding, my love).

There were so many wonderful photo ops along the way but we had a time limit. Our oldest granddaughter was playing in a softball game at 3:30 near Moorpark and we didn't want to miss a second of it.

We experienced green rolling hills, majestic oaks, agricultural fields in all states of production (cabbage, garlic, grapes, berries, onions, more grapes, almonds, more grapes). We saw ocean, rugged canyons and more CHP black and whites than I have all year at homes. Luckily, they never showed any interest in us.

Then we were there. She was in uniform, already standing out in field, white bow in her long blonde ponytail. Our son was in the bleachers. Great game. Her team won ( of course )!

We had a fantastic dinner with the whole family; son, daughter-in-law, old granddaughter, younger granddaughter and ribs and tri tip (don't tell my dr. ). I got hugs and hugs and more hugs, but, sadly, not enough! We had a wonderful time.

We turned the car to the north early the next morning. Frank drove the Grapevine (again, weird brakes, long downhill grade ). I took over driving and we flew to my parents house in northern California. My husband fixed my dad's wifi, Mom fed us (as always...good chicken, Mom, thanks).

We returned to dog and hairy home just in time to put jammies on, pour some ice tea and assume the position for Survivior! (Bye shouldn't have trusted a cop who always swears on his wife and kid's lives).

Ten minutes after 9, I believe I was sound asleep with my head on my husband's shoulder. We both woke up an hour later, giggled and went to bed.

Today my dog is happy, we are home to toss his rope for him.
Today niece is happy; got all her classes and that makes me happy.
Today I am also happy because I filled up my love space with family time.
Today my rugs are happy because I vacuumed them, over and over and over!

Life is good!

May 10, 2014

"Do One Thing..."

Eleanor Roosevelt was one tough cookie and classy chick all mixed into one. I love her quotes. Every now and then I go to Goodreads and read her bits of wisdom.

This morning, one of the blogs I frequently sip my green tea over, asked this question:
"How often do you do something entirely new?"

It was, indeed, a "good read".  Reading the blog, I was taken back to one of the grand First Lady's quotes:
"Do one thing everyday that scares you!"

I realized that I have been on the path of new adventures. Starting up a book club, becoming a vegetarian, returning to pottery and art, attempting things I thought were too hard, going places alone (a lot), making new friends. Four of my friends are starting a little walking club. Four women and I are making a trip to Jacksonville, Oregon to a Britt concert and I am starting my own business, just me, no partners! I have actually just presented a proposal to our church for a brand new kind of ministry. I am making my dog his own wheat and corn free food!

Don't worry, my friends, I am still as woo~woo as I've always been!Just a more balanced woo~woo.

There are even changes going on in my brain. I am finding that my attachment to old ways of thinking are slipping away. My reactions to the statements and actions of some people have become a detached observation, not an emotional reaction. 

Don't get me wrong, my bloodlines insure that there will still be plenty of emotional reaction; I have not become a Steppford wife, I just get to choose what events I am going to merely observe  and which ones will hit the emotion button. Once the E-Button has been pressed, it is also my choice to stay emotional, or search for where and why the emotion is there. With that awareness I can choose whether to stay in the emotion or step back and observe.

It is strange that the older I get the  more courage I muster up from the core of me. Maybe it is the fear of what-if-I-fail just doesn't have the clout it used to have. I have detached from caring if strangers, or people I know, witness me falling on my ass. I am in the game.

Tomorrow I am taking very dear ashes to the coast to spread them in the waves. A pain in my heart as I typed that; but facing those events that cause us pain in the heart and completing them will help us build courage. And "courage" as we know means "from the heart."

So, unlike Eleanor, I am most likely not going to do something that scares me every day. Being the First Lady of the United States and waking up each morning probably filled that requirement for her.

I am, though, going to do something new each day...okay....maybe not each day, but I promise you this, Reader, I will not end another week of my life without trying something new some time during the week. I would venture to say, though, that Mondays will probably not be the day I try something new; too cliche, too mundane and, more honestly, already too hard to get those turbos charged on Monday.

List of New Things I Will Not Be Doing

Bungee Jumping
Soft Tofu
Watching Professional Baseball......("wake me up, before you Go, Go. Don't leave me hanging like a yoyo!")
Mud Wrestling (though I am willing to try peanut butter or tapioca pudding)
Sailing anything under 50' on the open sea.
Sailing anything over 50' on the open sea.
Swimming the English Channel (speaking of channels, I won't be watching HBO, either)
Climbing Mt. Everest  or any other peak over 14,000 feet.
Hang Gliding
Participating in MXC Challenges

I do have a Bucket List and may post it down the road, in fact, maybe I should add that to the bottom of the list: #137.  Post Bucket List

One of Ms. Roosevelt's quotes I will be paying a great deal of attention to is my favorite:
"Happiness is not a's a by-product of a life well lived." 

May 08, 2014

Little Slice of Paradise!

The entry hinted of the incredible potential for some "WOW"!

We opened the door and stepped into paradise!

My husband scheduled a photo shoot of two gorgeous vacation rentals. We were comped the use of one of the houses.

Which one you may ask? I call it the Romantic Getaway house!

Well, it could be a romantic getaway but Frank was busy doing his click, click, click thing and visiting with owner, sooooo,
my other name for the house is Private Ecstasy!

I poured myself a tall glass of iced tea; sat on the upper deck for an hour or so and read a fantastic book we are reading in the book club, Quantum Think by Dianne Collins.

I stood at the railing, watching an eagle fly by; house boats float down the arm of the lake and the beautiful mountains. I heard a little noise and looked down. A hot tub! Oh yeah!

I grabbed a towel and did the stairs as quick as I could. Ripped off my clothes and stepped into the warmer, bubblier side of paradise!

As I laid back in the delicious heat of the water and sun another bald eagle flew overhead.

This is the life!

I heard my name being called! I open my eyes and there is my husband, leaning over the edge of the upper deck! Noticing that I was naked he made the comment, "I guess I should tell Ken to wait a couple of minutes before he comes over!"

Did I say "romantic"?  What was I thinking?

Time to get out of the tub anyway. I'd been in about 20 or 30 minutes already. I'd say I was thoroughly cooked!

Had a very nice visit with the owner. He told us the house had been owned by Raymond Burr "back in the old days!"

We had a great chicken enchilada dinner surrounded by views in the glass dining room.

We had cameras locked and loaded for a fantastic sunset but as we dined the clouds rolled in, and rolled in and rolled in.

By the time dusk had come and gone, we were back in the hot tub. The moon just a bright glow through the clouds. No stars for us but the space was so full of ambiance, who needed stars?

If you want to take your Honey to a peaceful, serene retreat, off the beaten track, no highway noise; can't even hear the boats on the lake. All we could hear were the birds, the breeze rustling through the trees and the beating of our hearts. We fell in love with Dreamview!

May 06, 2014

Oh, No!!!

Lately I have been noticing a trend in my life that is causing me a little angst!

My three kids were born when I was very young. I was always (ALWAYS) the youngest mother in classrooms, field trips, PTA meetings, graduations!

My kids left home. Without a stick to measure it, thoughts about my age just disappeared. Poof, gone.

About six weeks ago, I was asked by the priest at church to join a certain group. So, I went to the first meeting. When I walked in one of my first thoughts was, "Wow, there are only old people here!"

I accompanied my husband to a meeting shortly after that. As I looked around, I realized that the room was filled with old people.

A couple of friends and I went out for breakfast early one morning. Glancing across the tables, the thought occurs to me that we are really out of place...the restaurant is filled with old people!

One Sunday morning, we got to church early...the pews are filled with old people. I guess "old people" get to church early!We attended Mass on a Saturday evening because we were leaving town early got it....old people everywhere you looked.

Holy Thursday they were 14 altar servers with lighted candles and old people, old people old people.

Typically, I am pretty quick but there are times.....

"Why do I seem to be finding myself surrounded by old people?" I asked myself.

"Self!" My self answered, "Look up the word: peers!"

Some epiphanies are better un-epiphanied!

May 01, 2014

Whiskeytown Lake

There are days in one's life that are simply good.

Sky is blue, lake is clear, mountains are high and trees are green.

Nothing super special about the day; no fireworks, no pomp, not even any prep.

Spur of the moment.

3:05 ~ I'm going to the Lake
3:06 ~ Into the shower...yeah, I know! Late in the day for a shower but I was playing with clay all day!
3:08 ~ Out of the shower...that's right, I am that quick!
3:11 ~ Backing out of the driveway.

Grabbed a soda on the way out.

Watched the sunset and an osprey. Shared some good conversation. Watched a couple of beautiful sailboats float by.

Breeze came up and caressed my face and arms, gently hinting it was time to head home.

Pushed my favorite CD in, especially made for me. Celebration by Kool and the Gang, Doobie Brothers, Jim Croce, John Denver, Natalie Merchant, even a little Lionel Richie.

Simply a good day. Nothing special yet everything special.

Life is, indeed, good!

A New Friend

Life is kind of crazy. Most of you know that but I just wanted to state it for the slow learners!

My husband and I have a good friend who was running his own interview radio program a couple of years back. The show was based on people who were living their passion. I did most of the background research for the show, biographical types of information.

One day my husband suggested to our friend that he might talk to a woman he knew through some of the classes and presentations he gives. Our friend sounded excited, asked me to call her and see if she was interested in being interviewed on air.

Turns out, she had no interest in being interviewed but our friend befriended her.

Any of you who have read my blog for any length of time have probably come to the conclusion that I am very metaphysically minded, or, as my husband describes me, I'm a little "woo-woo"!

Last week our friend and I were having a conversation over coffee. I made one of my "alternate-state-of- consciousness" comments and he covered his face with his hands. I punched him in the shoulder and inquired, "What's up?" (like I didn't know)

When he finally lowered his hands from his face, he asked, "Do you know ___________ ___________?

"No, never heard of her!"

He was a little surprised that Frank hadn't already introduced us. Most likely didn't get the introduction because Frank is already surrounded by so many women passing through our home who dwell in the woo-woo world of alternative consciousness, that the thought of one more made him tremble! (My husband witnesses the miracles of psi everyday. Like a good Catholic man, he just crosses himself and moves on!)

"Well, you need to meet her." Our friend emailed me her contact info, after clearing it with her.

I contacted her.  We made arrangements to meet.

She is fantastic. She exudes openness, acceptance and curiosity!  I can't wait to introduce her to other friends. She shows up 100%, she doesn't check any parts of her at the door. She is also up for adventure....I feel a women's retreat coming on and it is going to make headlines! Get Ready Friends!

The men, Frank and our friend, are in big doo-doo with me for being so selfish and keeping her all to themselves for so long. There will be consequences to pay!

I know....boooooring!

We have been paying $1500 a month for our insurance premium and that is through my husband's work, so his employer has been paying an additional amount.

Our deductible was $5500 per year for each of us. Then the insurance only paid 80% of "reasonable and customary" and we live in California. Living in California means that our typical office visit is about 45% more than the average across the nation, so 80% of r and c is a pittance.

We couldn't change insurance because I've had a heart attack, a history of arthritis and a long history of PTSD. Pre-existing is a very long four-letter-word in the insurance industry!

President Obama helped pass a law tossing out the "pre-existing" clause.

We just changed insurance! We have a $2000 deductible (combined). It doesn't cover one of my prescriptions which is $18 per month but I can afford to pay it, because I was paying it anyway but the $18 was being applied towards our old deductible annually! (12 x $18 = less than $5000 )  Good news;   our new insurance premium is just a bit over $300 a month!

We will be saving more than our mortgage each month. We could actually make double payments towards our mortgage and still have money left over to clear the dust in savings!  (Can dust exist in a vacuum?)

Our old insurance questioned and questioned and questioned every bill, even though they never paid anything. The one year when I had a total knee replacement in January, we paid the $5000 deductible to the hospital and had to fight with insurance to make other payments and they restricted physical therapy to 12 visits. My physical therapist was an awesome guy and told me to keep coming in and he wouldn't charge me because 12 visits is not enough for a total knee, especially after 3 years of severe arthritis in the joint and my lack of strength. 

The year we met our deductible in January, our insurance changed up their policy, gave us 30 days notice and started a new deductible in July of the same year!

I love our new insurance premium, I love our new insurance and I, especially, love our president.