Thursday, April 16, 2015

TAX DAY IS OVER, SORT OF.

We tend to think of taxes as our own personal burden. But,  tax accountants routinely give extensions to people so tax day can be different for some people. Good for them, because their work is so concentrated in three months, it is hard to get the job done. And it gives us a bit of extra time to gather our paperwork as well.
This poem has been around a lot. It has no attributable author and is presumed to be in the public domain but it kind of expresses most of the pain of paying our taxes.

Tax his land, tax his wage,
Tax his bed in which he lays.
Tax his tractor, tax his mule,
Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow, tax his goat,
Tax his pants, tax his coat.
Tax his ties, tax his shirts,
Tax his work, tax his dirt.
Tax his chew, tax his smoke,
Teach him taxes are no joke.
Tax his car, tax his grass,
Tax the roads he must pass.
Tax his food, tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his sodas, tax his beers,
If he cries, tax his tears.
Tax his bills, tax his gas,
Tax his notes, tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.
If he hollers, tax him more,
Tax him until he’s good and sore.
Tax his coffin, tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.
Put these words upon his tomb,
“Taxes drove me to my doom!”
And when he’s gone, we won’t relax,
We’ll still be after the inheritance tax.

As for me, I don’t mind paying as much as I mind the process because I’m not very mathematical and I hate DOING my taxes. I only met one man who claimed not to mind paying his taxes. His parents were immigrants from Portugal and he claimed to be ever grateful to live in a country like ours that provides us enough opportunity to earn a good living and pay taxes. He is unique. He is a friend gone, now. And I salute  his memory every year at tax time.  Larry Santos, a deputy sheriff from Alameda County.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

GIFTS TO TREASURE.

Two nights ago, I awoke to a star filled sky, the milky way clearly in view with a small moon and the fresh night air. I walked out on my deck and drank it in. Then I saw a shooting star and thought about a star dying and remembered that a friend gave me a packet of star dust. And, I treasure that gift that he worked so hard to extract from a fallen star. I began to think of gifts I treasure.
Friendships and family are always high on my list, and friends are a gift to be sure.
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Imagine having your family members sitting on your table, each and every one a  gourd. It gives me joy every time I look at them.  They were painted by my daughter-in-law Laurie.
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My friend Kendra came Sunday and brought a quilt of her's that I admired. I quilted with her for the year it took her to make it and asked her for the pattern, called jewel box. She couldn't find the pattern so we plotted the pattern from her quilt, measuring and gageing the somewhat complicated construction to produce strings of "jeweled" squares on point. I treasure time spent with her and it pleases me that little scraps of rescued material can turn into make something bigger and beautiful, and useful, too.
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Another gift I treasure is this crystal bottle with a silver lid filled with the sand, given to me by my neighbor Jan Stewart,  upon my husband's death. An ode to time and assurance that I would find myself and be grounded again some day without him.

There are other gifts, polished glass my grandsons brought to me from glass beach.  A batik stamp my daughter brought me from another part of the world. I treasure her letters and writings from Egypt. Greeting cards from both my son's and things they made for me over the years. A kaleidoscope necklace from my oldest daughter but more than that, her unique ability in rescuing others, people and animals.

I spent two days weeding in the yard to the sound of chirping birds, the smell's emanating from the soil and the sun beating down on my head. Heaven.

It kind of amazes me when I think about the things I treasure. Most of them have no great value. See what a few moments in starlight  can trigger? The poets call it magic. But, I can hear "corny" emanating from my machine.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

SAFEGUARDING OUR DRINKING WATER

Tom McClintock, 8700 Auburn-Folsom Rd. Ste 100, Granite Bay, CA, 95746. Call 916-786-5560.  In Washington, 202-225-2511.
Barbara Boxer, 2500 Tulare St. Ste 5290, Fresno, CA, 93721. In Washington, 202-224-3553
Dianne Fieinstein, 2500 Tulare  St.,Ste 4290, Fresno, CA. 93721. In Washington, 202-224-3841.

Other communities can find their representative’s and city councils names in the front of their phone book. Do it.
Local measures against fracking are beginning to make an impact across America.  There are 41 measures in the connected states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. 18 in New York, 4 in West Virginia, 10 in Virginia, 35 in North Carolina, 2 in Florida, 37 in Ohio, 1 in Indiana, 7 in Illinois, 21 in Michigan, 5 in Wisconsin, 1 in Iowa, 2 in Minnesota, 1 in North Dakota, 4 in Texas, 3 in New Mexico, 10 in Colorado, 1 in Wyoming, 23 in Northern California, and 1 in Hawaii.
You can reach Food And Water Watch at: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org. E-mail: info@fwwatch.org. Phone 202-683-2500. They are mailing petitions to sign.

Friday, April 10, 2015

FRACKING ENDANGERS OUR WATER AND AIR.

A vehicle partially submerged in dry mud is pictured in an area that was hit by floods at Chanaral town

Hydraulic fracturing involves injecting millions of gallons of water with sand and chemicals under high pressure down and across as far as 10,000 feet below the surface. The mixture causes rock layers to crack and open and allow the oil to penetrate the sand particles  so the natural gas from the fracture can flow up the well. Natural gas is cleaner than other fossil fuels like coal and oil, but not by much. It is mostly methane and it traps heat, it leaks readily and like the residents of Dish, Texas complained, "We have unexplained headaches and sickness in  people and animals since the drillers came to town". Air quality tests showed high benzene pollution in the area.

But, the big danger is water well contamination  and earthquakes. Thanks to intensive lobbying from then Vice-President Cheney under President George W., Big Oil and Gas is exempt from critical statutes in all major environmental protections, The Safe Drinking Water Act, The Clean Water Act, The Clean Air Act and laws governing the disposal of toxic waste. Pretty Cushy if you are in the oil and gas business, right? And, frackers are allowed to keep secret what chemicals they are pumping into the ground.
How can that be? It's true.

Now let's talk about groundwater, supposedly it belongs to everyone. Like the air we breath, it is a life necessity and no one can buy our air and make us pay for it, and so far, we've managed to prevent corporations from buying control of our water. They've tried, though. In California, we think of our groundwater as a water savings account. We can always get water, right? That too, is beginning to change with high water crops, walnuts, pistachios, almonds draining away mega amounts of water.
3-31-drought

The Western United States is typically dry. Our water supply is used from reservoirs because very few natural lakes exist in California. Reservoirs are man made. We've kind of kidded ourselves, or the powers that be have, by damming rivers and reducing them to a trickle. Holding water back worked but it  proved to be the wrong way to treat our rivers. And depending on a pipeline that steals water from the north to make the desert bloom in the south, was then and is now a questionable practice. The truth is that California groundwater would always save us in a drought. Now, that water is in big danger, we need to rethink that.  Fracking is only part of it. But, it is the most dangerous part of it.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW CAN HURT YOU.

A boat paddle is shown on the bottom of the nearly dry Almaden Reservoir near San JoseThis photo is from Reuters Media.

Right now in Calaveras County, and throughout the state,  people are shocked and concerned about water usage;  their reservoirs are drying up. They are concerned for their future in a globally changed climate with an estimated 10 year drought.  In the worst drought on record, the California Sierra snow pack was at 27 inches. It is now at 2 inches. That is scary.

There is an urge locally to dam up all the water so we can to keep it. But damming doesn't bring more water.  It is frightening and people are scared. But solutions have to protect people, fish, agriculture and the environment as the river serves many areas over miles of its flow. I wondered if there was a bill in our state to ban fracking?

Several states have banned fracking with good reason. Imagine waking up to find your tap water bursting into flames, or your horses going blind, and cows dropping dead. Admittedly, that is what happened in Arkansas, and is a worse case scenario where the entire town had to be evacuated.

The latest news from a peer-reviewed study by the Colorado School of Public Health and Brown University found an association between the density and proximity of  gas wells within a 10 mile radius of a maternal residence showed a prevalence of congenital heart defects as well as possible links to defects in the brain and spinal cord.

With a 25% mandatory water reduction, I began to wonder about fracking in California? I called Governor Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom our Lt. Governor. No one would or could  give me a direct answer about anything having to do with fracking. Newsom put me in touch with the Water Control Board. Everyone was in meetings. But an aide  put me in touch with The Division of Oral Gas and Geo Thermal. Their public relations person, Don Drysdale could not or would not answer questions directly but he emailed me.

More on this subject tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

WE NEED A RAINY DAY...

There's a song that starts I LOVE A RAINY DAY, ... Well it's cold and wet and miserable today, especially since I turned the pilot off on my heater and cleaned up my wood stove for warmer weather.

I can't say I'm loving this rainy day, but we definitely need it. And, there is comfort to hanging out in your robe and slippers for half a day, to work on a project set aside and waiting. For me, a couple of unfinished rugs and one needing repair. And a chance to slog through saved scraps for quilts and begin another while other blocks lay forgotten and tucked away.

I took the time to read some poetry and I like this one enough to share. It is in the public domain.

Loveliest of Trees, The Cherry, Now

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

By A. E. Housman

And, another:
I normally don't like poems that don't rhyme, but this one reminded me of journey's I've had on trains and it was just as described in this narrative poem.

The Dining Car of the Southern Crescent, By John Campbell

The Southern Crescent
snakes its way through
the rolling fog shrouded
piedmont landscape;
a young man on spring break,
returning home from
college, crosses the creaky
passageway that leads from
Pullmans to the dining car.
Breakfast smells give rise to
an ambitious order of fresh coffee,
country ham with red eye gravy,
grits, scrambled eggs and
biscuits with blackberry jam.
The waiter, agile and accomplished,
dressed in a white starched apron,
steadies himself against the swaying
motion of the train; with serving tray
in hand and balanced, he places the
piping hot breakfast on a table decked
with a linen table cloth, pewter
creamers, thick silverware, coffee
cups and saucers and plates etched with
a crescent moon insignia; a small
bundle of daffodils sit in a crystal
vase near the window.
The young man with the vittles before him,
relishes a feeling of adult composure
and delight. "How could life be this good?"
A breakfast fit for a king, waiters
eager to please, railway views of
rural Carolina: tenant shanties,
grazing black angus, abandoned junkyards,
brownstone depots and sleepy towns.
He, still unfamiliar with the niceties
of the wealthy elite, or even the
acquired dignities of his college
professors, avows, while pouring
coffee from a silver carafe into
a Syracuse China cup, that the
dining car of the Southern Crescent
is a place of utmost refinement.

John Campbell's poem was delivered to my mailbox by A Poem A Day, that I subscribe to. His poem is available framed from Poem A Day, and is not in the public domain.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

ACCOMPLICE.

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For a small community, Murphys offers great Little Theatre. The Black Bart Playhouse used to be the home of the Black Bart Players. My husband and I were theatre buffs and at one time belonged to the Fremont Players.  George and I both had acting roles and behind the scenes roles in Fremont and I did a play for the Newark Players, and George did a season with Oakland Reperatory Theatre.  Those were great times and great memories and great friendships made. It was a natural to become supporters of the Black Bart Players when we moved here. We have attended hundreds of theatrical productions, both professional theatre in San Francisco, Santa Clara and even New York City. One of the the best plays I've ever seen was God's Favorite, right here in Murphys by the Black Bart Players when they performed at the old Native Son's Hall. I no longer remember his name, but the male lead was a local teacher. His performance was stellar and made the play memorable.
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The Accomplice is the product of Murphys Creek Theatre Company and was directed by Maryann Curmi. This twisting, turning plot is full of surprises and comedy and kept me and son, Ken, and daughter-in-law Laurie enthralled to the end. No slapstick, real comedy.
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A comfortable lobby with snacks, beer and wine for sale, makes a night of theatre even more enjoyable. Having been so occupied with my new building in Oregon, I've not been to a play in many months.
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Don Bilotti, Maryann Curmi, Paul Del Gatto and Celeste Fiory all have professional theatre credits, so talent is oozing out of this cast and it shows. Not to short the rest of the cast, Joe Conn, Graham Green, and Michelle Low have had gobs of theatre experience from Joe, an East Coast transplant and both Michelle and Graham local work of renown. What I was most impressed with is the number and variety of projects the Murphys Creek Theatre Company employs. Just read the schedule for 2015. There is something for everyone. And, whatever you do, don't miss ACCOMPLICE. More than a play, its an experience.

The ACCOMPLICE runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through April 26th. What a blast. Don't miss this one.
For tickets you can call 209.728.8422. You can also go to their website-www.murphyscreektheatre.org. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

KILLING PEOPLE.


KILLING PEOPLE

April 2, 2015

A total of 111 people were killed by police in the United States in March of 2015. Since 1900, in the entire United Kingdom, 52 people have been killed by police.
Don’t bother adjusting for population differences, or poverty, or mental illness, or anything else. The sheer fact that American police kill TWICE as many people per month as police have killed in the modern history of the United Kingdom is sick, preposterous, and alarming.

In March:
Police beat Phillip White to death in New Jersey. He was unarmed.
Police shot and killed Meagan Hockaday, a 26-year-old mother of three.
Police shot and killed Nicholas Thomas, an unarmed man on his job at Goodyear in metro Atlanta.
Police shot and killed Anthony Hill, an unarmed war veteran fighting through mental illness, in metro Atlanta.

There are many more.


This has to end.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE...

Indiana recently passed a law under Christian Governor Mike Pence that businessmen have the right to refuse service to anyone because of their religious beliefs. It is aimed at gays. It isn’t really about religion, its because they feel gays are “icky, or threatening, or weird”..  It’s dishonest behavior. Daily Kos put together some religious passages to help Christian Businessmen make better decisions:
“Dear Valued Patrons.Due to my sincerely held religious beliefs, and in light of the RFRA, recently signed by our Dear Leader Pence, I will no longer be doing business with the following persons; nor permitting them in my establishment:

1.  Divorcees.  Matthew 19:9: “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.”

2.  Anyone who has ever read their horoscope or called a psychic hotline.  Leviticus 20:6: “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.”

3.  Anyone with a tattoo.   Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.”

4.  Anyone born illegitimately.  Also, anyone who, back to ten generations, is descended from someone born illegitimately.  If you can not PROVE, using appropriate church sources, that ten generations of your family were born in wedlock, I will have to err on the side of caution and not serve you. Deuteronomy 23:2 “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.”

5.  Anyone who makes a practice of praying aloud, or in public.  Matthew 6:5-6  “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

6.  Any woman with braided hair or gold jewelry.  Just to be on the safe side, NO jewelry at all.  1 Timothy 2:9 “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments.”

7.  Any man who has ever, by accident or not, had his genitals damaged.  (Current interpretation of this scripture is under debate, so just to be safe, if you’ve had a vasectomy, or testicular cancer, I can’t serve you.  I apologize for the inconvenience but I am worried for my soul.)  Deuteronomy 23:1 “A man whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off may never join the assembly of the Lord.”

8.  Please don’t bring your kids in if they have a bowl cut.  Leviticus 19:27 reads “You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.”

For those of you complaining that some of these scriptures are from the Old Testament, and that Jesus came to redeem us from these laws, I refer you to Matthew 5:17-19, where Our Savior himself says:  “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18″For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19″Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven”

Again, I am sorry for the inconvenience.  It’s nothing personal, “love the sinner but hate the sin,” and all, but I simply can’t serve anyone who would blatantly disregard God’s sacred law in such a fashion.
Jesus had dinner with prostitutes and tax collectors and sinners of all types.  Get over it. And, remember, God is perfect and he allowed gays to be born that way.

Monday, March 30, 2015

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT TAR SANDS?

Keystone XL pipeline was bad enough. Big oil downplays disasters as though leaking pipes, and lack of safety inspections are rare isolated incidents.  Big oil does not want you to remember  the huge  leak that closed a whole community in Arkansas in 2013, nor train that derailed and exploded in West Virginia in 2015, nor the mountain of toxic Coke waste piling up in East Chicago at the terminal off the great lakes, 6000 tons of it every day. They don’t want you to think about super-tankers carrying up to two million barrels of oil over sensitive ocean. Canada stands to benefit big time while we carry the risk. Don’t let it happen.
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All that crude coming from the Alberta Tar Sands is so profitable that Big Oil wants to triple production and send as much as 6 Million barrels a day on these newly planned routes into the us, by pipeline, and tankers all around the east coast, Florida,The Gulf and California Coast. It seems to me investing in clean energy makes so much better sense. You can double click on the picture to get a better read on the proposed routes. Oil on trains, river barges, and lake barges, and ocean tankers does not spell safety to me. The Natural Resources Defense Council has made this public. It puts San Franciso Bay, Puget Sound, the Great Lakes, the Hudson river, and more at risk.
It means mile long trains of tank cars traveling through highly populated areas like Los Angeles, Seattle and Albany New York.
Tankers imperiling fragile sea life in the New England, the Great Lakes and the gulf of Mexico where those refineries are located and recovery from a spill is still not paid for, nor the gulf repaired to it’s “pre-leak” condition.
If you believe in government for the people and not corporations, whenever you see someone in your neck of the woods proposing pipeline legislation for tar sands. Make your voice heard. From me Governor Brown will hear, NO, NO and NO. Also my representative. Luckily we can make our voices heard, but even that freedom is under attack.