Friday, September 29, 2017

CATCH-UP BLOG



Life has given me some dizzying, and significant changes in my life. I tend to juggle too many projects and responsibilities which keeps me busier than I like. (Self imposed, doncha know.) I've been diagnosed with a serious disease and now have to attend more and more doctor's appointment.
I'm still collecting quotes for those future blogs and I enjoy them. They are stacking up, along with unmade quilts and art projects.
I'm a noted Treehugger and this morning, I couldn't resist re-posting this message that I wish to share with anyone who will pay attention:

It has been one month since Kenya enacted the world's strictest ban on plastic bags. It took ten years and three attempts to pass the legislation, but as of August 28, people could be punished for carrying, manufacturing and importing plastic bags. Fines range from $19,000 to $38,000, with possible four-year jail terms. All travelers are required to leave their plastic bags at the airport and residents are encouraged to drop off old bags at local grocery stores for collection.
The ban is highly ambitious for a country that used to hand out 100 million plastic bags a year. But as pollution piled up, officials realized something more drastic needed to be done. Plastic bags litter every Kenyan roadway, clog sewers and streams, and damage soil and water sources. Even animals eat them.
"In Nairobi’s slaughterhouses, some cows destined for human consumption had 20 bags removed from their stomachs. 'This is something we didn’t get 10 years ago but now it’s almost on a daily basis,' said county vet Mbuthi Kinyanjui as he watched men in bloodied white uniforms scoop sodden plastic bags from the stomachs of cow carcasses."

There are many reasons to ban plastic bags even though some people hate it. The inability of plastic bags to decompose, affecting soil quality. In some areas, plastic bags block sewers and prevent proper water drainage. They bugger sewage plants.
They damage ecosystems. Many animals and especially sea turtles and other underwater creatures eat them thinking they are jelly fish and die from it.
Plastic bags endanger human health when used for packaging food in particular hot food, baby pouches and cooking pouches.
They release poisonous gas when burned affecting the open air if burned in large numbers as some cities do to get rid of the shear volume of the plastic packaging and disposable bags. Well, I'm done with my rant. Please help enact a stricter ban on plastics. In California, every city and store can choose whether to do it or not. It is voluntary.  Our local SaveMart has given up plastic,  but I still see people buying groceries with shopping carts heaped full with a few items in each bag coming out of Walmart, Kohls,Big Lots, Big 5, Ace Hardware, and just about every other store in the county. Have a heart. Do your part.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

MATZEK FAMILY REUNION-2017

 

Four years now, we've gone to Lake Tahoe for our family reunion. The cabin we rented sleeps 16 people. It had a pretty picture on-line but the square footage proved a tight squeeze. The lighting was poor and the place had “garage sale” amenities. On one end of the table, a Rummicube game, and on the near end, cribbage. Our entire group could not fit around the table.



Our family is big on games. The only other activity was a hot tub. We took turns at the games.



Doug, besides being the master chef, served as D.J. and kept us supplied with tunes by request.



Saturday, before lunch, we drove to King’s Beach which is close to our Pina Grande rental.  The water was refreshing, the beach crowded, but we had a spot in the shade. Laurie, Theo and Austin played frisbee in the water and did a fair amount of swimming. The beach was quite narrow with the recent rains filling the lake to near capacity.

 Ken took a cooling dip and came back to shore for snacks.



It is possible to walk out a couple hundred feet and still be in shallow water.



People of all ages paddle board safely, considering the lake is 6,000 feet deep at the center. It was volcano at one time.



This young girl was very adept, taking her dog for a ride.



Off she went. She didn’t seem to have any adult supervision.



She and her brother had their own shade and their own boards. She told us she was local and they spend every minute they can at the beach.



It was time for snacks…



…and a cool drink. Ahh. Refreshing.



Theo proceeded to dig a hole. His mother said, “Tell me my son’s not going to be an engineer.”



Owen barely got his toes wet, enough to cool off. He wished he’d brought his swimwear.



The “sisters” decided to have a photo together.



Not to be outdone, Virginia decided to remove her shirt and show her “girls.” Grandma decided to do likewise. Omigod! I can’t believe I did that!



On the way back to the parking lot, Austin found these cards stuck up in the sand. We wondered if they were directions for someone?

While we were at the beach, Cedric made his signature pies, except, he had a flour shortage and the crust wasn’t his usual standard. Austin and Theo were given the privilege to carve the crust decorations.



Doug and I fixed Friday nights dinner. Saturday, was Virginia’s night to cook. She made taco fixin’s to die for. This family eats well.



Normally television is off-limits on our reunions. I had asked the boys what their favorite movies were? They tossed me names and the bond film, Casino Royale with the latest Bond character was everyone’s favorite. Ken happened to have the movie and we all got to see the last scene. I guess, now I’ll have to find it on Yahoo.



Sunday morning breakfast, Laurie put out gobs of fruit and bacon to go with Virginia’s pancakes. I prefer pie for breakfast along with the fruit. There was no lack of choices.



Sunday, grandson, Stewart drove up for the day. His girlfriend Allie is in nursing school and stayed in the library to study. It was nice to have a good visit with Stewart. And it was nice to move the games outside where we could more or less all be together and the light was great.



Cedric played Mr. Fixit and repaired two torn screens on the front deck.


He likes to make himself useful.



We left for the beach later in the day on Sunday and struggled to find a spot with a bit of shade. It was even busier than Saturday.



Theo brought a couple of shovels and deepened his hole and came home with a blister.



With skin so fair, the redhead claimed he was fine. His spray doesn’t wash off for several hours. He and Theo played frisbee with me for a while, but they wore me out very quickly.



I caught a nice shot of Owen who tends to be deliberately camera-shy.



A friendly game of elevator, and our last dinner. This time prepared by Laurie and Ken. Special Italian pasta and gluten free pasta with BBQ’d chicken. More fruits and much more. Stewart left with a huge “doggie bag”.

 Doug and I were first to arrive and last to leave. It took us 2.5 hours to drive up on Friday but 5.5 hours to return to Murphys on Monday morning.  We had slowdowns, but saw no accidents. Ken and Laurie, Cedric and Virginia, made it home within about the same time frame as they arrived. Ken, Laurie, Kris and Austin made a game of counting returnees from Burning Man.  Between them they spotted 500 plus Burners. Doug and I spotted one bus and two cars. Every year is different, but we always fun.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

RELIVING BALLOON FUN, AND OTHER TRIVIA


Jim IZ repeating blogs from our 892 day circumnavigation of the U.S.  Don't know if that number is correct or just close. But we were visiting New Mexico in May of 2012 and like many of our adventures, we happened upon a balloon launch and ended up, as Fergie would say, "getting high". 800 feet high. Of course, he also says, "I'm drinkin and drinkin' and thinkin' of drinkin." He invited us into their small circle and made us members. I finally got to see the two balloon blogs today and remember the fun of that time. So, go look if you are inclined.
With Google taking over Wordpress, they've tweaked our blog and I can blog but I can't see what Jim is blogging even though we share the same page. They've quit supporting our editing program. I dislike google's intrusive business model and I avoid anything Google if I can. But, they bought Wordpress and they own my other Blog, Blogspot.

My handy helpers worked all day yesterday and tore apart my guest outbuilding because it had gotten some black mold that came through when the siding got damp and soil accumulated against the wood. Then I got the news, that not only mold, but termites had invaded. They had to cut into the sheet rock and use Terminex which is stinky stuff. Hopefully the smell will be gone soon when they return to finish the job on Saturday.

One good thing, I was forced to face some of my infamous collections. Being a collectiholic is incurable, but space is now more crowded than ever and I am tossing things I've saved for years. I ran across my rejection slips from when I was freelancing in the 1980s. I figured I'd have to wallpaper the bathroom with them, but luckily that didn't happen.

I ran across a Lefthander magazine, that I put in the rack because my daughter Kristanne is a south-paw.
I found, in Virginia's neat handwriting, a luscious recipe for gingerbread using fresh ginger. I have tons of stuff to find a home for, but it is fun to look. I'm hoping to find space to take my artwork seriously because, I never made it to the outbuilding to create. I just stored stuff for "some day."
Here are pictures of the treated building.

The Terminex kills the termites. The bleach solution kills the mold, which had to be scraped in some places off the cement floor.

Drawers under the bed in the guest room had to have the bottom removed. Termites like to eat the easy stuff. Sunlight and lack of moisture should put an end to them.


The breeze-way between the buildings is full of shelving. It is NOT going back in because it is time to downsize collections. I took magazines to the library today, old magazines and they were glad to get them. People love them I was told, just like I did.

I guess I'm looking at my past and future entwined. That is a direct quote. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

FLUME PARTY


Past family reunions always included a run on the flume over the Independence Day Holiday. Virginia is floating peacefully along. I chose this picture to show what the flume looks like with dappled sun, shadows, and growth on the banks of the gunite flume. It was built during the gold rush to bring water to the miners.

A staying hand, a paddle or two, and the tube obeys in the swirling waters.

Flume Master, Doug, is the hoss, picking the best drop-in to start and the best, and the safest, pull-out near an eddy. He wanted to introduce his friends, Dirk Christianson and family to a unique waterway.

Everyone carries  their own tube. You can jump in anytime but a low spot we've nicknamed the beach is Doug's choice to launch. The gunite can be rough on knees and elbows so an anchor helps people up the bank.  The flume is practically in our backyard, so it's been our air conditioning for years. Jump in, get your clothes wet and stay cool in half damp clothes for the rest of the day.

Mother, Kelly skipped the first run. She is strong and supple and has the appearance of a yoga maven.

And that is the way she sat her tube. Doug told me later that she is a yoga aficionado. I love my yoga and thai chi, so we have a lot in common.

Daughter Kendal...

...and her friend, Jenna were enjoying the ride. The water is high this year, but that is a relative term. Some places are thigh deep, others calf deep. In a low year, your butt can't always clear the rocks.

Dirk is watchful, and takes the tubes out for the girls

Young and nimble, they need no help to get up the bank.

They tell the Flume Master all about their experience. It looks like Kendal has twigs caught in her hair, but I think it is branches from an overhead tree.

Time out for snacks between runs.

By the second...
...and third runs, the girls are relaxed and playing games. Kendal admitted they were careful on the first run, watching for poison oak,  spiders, the swift curves and maybe other things Doug teased them about.

Dirk liked the flume. He also pulled out some plastic garbage tangled in some bushes.  The girls snagged a flattened tube someone ditched on the bank. Our rules are you take everything out that you bring in. Kudos.

Dirk found himself a cool spot, hanging onto a tree root, to sit and enjoy the cooling water in the shade.

Virginia and Theo got into a race, passed the girls and...
...the winner was Theo,  first under the bridge.

Mom was a close second.

When Theo made it up top, he was surprised to find out that his dodge past a patch of blackberries left him souvenirs.  The flume is not a straight shot. It winds around and around to slow the water and passes several spots for water to be taken out in case of fire.

Cedric opted to snack and stay on the bridge with Owen who appeared to be feeling poorly, though he denied it.

Hmm! I don't know. There has to be something amiss with a 17 year old who doesn't pay attention to two beautiful girls. Time to do some digging and turn that sad face into a smile.

Back at the house, the Flume Master also reigns as Master Meat Chef. Doug makes some amazing tri-tip, ribs, sausage and chicken come off the grill.

Neighbors Cindy and Gary Gonzalez joined us for eats, along with my brother, Bill. Pushing eighty he looks terrific for his age. I'd like to steal some of his natural curly hair. He told me to meet him at the barbershop and take home what I wanted. That wasn't exactly what I had in mind, doncha know.

Happy Independence Day tomorrow.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

SOBER GRADUATION.

Graduation in most places is already past. My daughter Virginia was a volunteer parent for sober graduation this year.  Pinball machines,  pool tables, all manner of games and fun plus the traditional dancing and all night visiting, signing year books, eating gobs and gobs of good food, picture taking...good stuff. Her own High School graduation was sober by choice, at a private party, but Bret Harte did not have sober graduation-then. It put me in mind of my own pretty amazing High School Graduation Party.

My date arrived, and picked me up. I was all decked out in a  blue, sparkly formal. Our party was an all night affair ending with a morning breakfast. I had a pretty dress to change into if we decided to attend the breakfast.

A neighborhood couple I babysat for, had two sisters move in with them mid year. One sister, Jane, was my age and I introduced her around school. She was graduating as well and had a date. We decided to go in separate cars to the dance. I knew her date, Gary, but he had never met my date, Frank.

During the course of the evening I found out Frank wasn't much for dancing. He would slip out to his car and have a drink. I could smell it on him. I kept dancing.  About midnight, he just disappeared. Jane, who had been having  a good time, dancing and flirting was also imbibing and she passed out in Gary's car. He was looking for her and I was looking for Frank. What to do? Together we decided to bring Jane home. I knew her Uncle would be mad, so we carried her into my house. I  put her in my bed and stood her almost identical blue formal in the corner of my room. I changed clothes and went back to the gymnasium for more dancing and breakfast with Gary.

We ate breakfast and a group of kids decided to go to Lake Merritt in Oakland and ride the paddle boats and we  decided to go. I didn't call my parents. I'd be home about the time the breakfast after party was supposed to be over.

It was quite a shock when I arrived home about noon and my parents did a double take. Jane was still passed-out in my bed and her Uncle and sister were frantically calling my parents( and Gary's parents) to see if I knew where Jane was?  They kept telling them I was home and still asleep in bed.

With school's end,  Jane was shipped back to her family in Kansas, and I ended up with Gary as a steady boyfriend that summer.

As the quote goes:  "All's well that ends well."

Friday, June 23, 2017

RAISING A TEPEE.



American Indians built tepees big enough to shelter a family in winter or summer. Old movie westerns showed tepees that were open structures with a flap over the entrance. In the movies a tall person had to stoop a bit to enter and maybe four people could fit inside seated around a fire. I was privileged to watch Harvey White Bear and his wife Cathy put up this authentic tepee at Sky Hawk Ranch in Murphys.


The poles are 25 feet long and each one is a birch tree. Over several hundred years, the nomadic plains Indians learned to build a comfortable, practical dwelling  that served them well through summer and winter. Harvey walks a rope around and around the structure.  Each set of poles is tied the required six times.


The people took down their dwellings about every six months as they followed the herds of buffalo, their main source of food and materials. Precise ways, tried and true, are followed to make the job faster and easier to pick up and move on as a group.


Harvey spreads the canvas centered on one pole. He secures it at the required distance from the top so it won't slip when it is raised. It is a ritual. He loves staying in touch with his heritage by erecting this tepee according to the custom of his forefathers. "I don't get much practice," he said. "I was very happy the Clan asked me to put it up." Harvey belongs to the Bear Clan centered in Idaho. He lives in Wallace and is Cherokee, raised by Comanche with Miwuk cousins. There is another tepee like this one erected near Laytonville by the Owl Clan.


Cathy and "Grandmother Jan" loosely fold the canvas over the pole. Elder women and men are called "grandfather" and "grandmother." They are treated with special respect. It is an honor to be a grandmother or grandfather who council the young, and teach them the accumulated wisdom and  history of the tribe through the years.


Cathy picks  up the heavy end so Harvey can get a rope under the heavy mass of wood and canvas. He ties it in two places.


Cindy holds the heavy end, Harvey takes the great weight in the middle and Jan balances with the top of the pole. Cindy will place the end on the ground and keep her foot wedged against it while Harvey and Jan raise it up to the top.


That plan didn't work. It was too heavy to get to the top with just three people. And, it also hit some tree branches before it could be placed. Grandmother Jan suggested seating it narrow end first and avoid the branches.


Grandmother Jan got reinforcements by waking up a night working neighbor, Rob. Harvey climbed up a ladder and guided it into the right slot.

From the inside, the poles are pushed out as far as they will go pushing into the canvas and tightening it.


Harvey laces up the door which must face East.


The last two poles are inserted into leather cones that have been sewn into the canvas. This is the air conditioning and draft mechanism for the fire. They can be positioned to take advantage of the wind. They vent the smoke and can be flipped to the other side of the tepee if needed.

The last task is to stake the tent to the ground. Native Americans use metal stakes and canvas and every modern tool they can to make the job easier. Their ancestors had fewer choices. Grandfather John, joined us late in the process.

It took about three hours to raise the tepee. In summer, the air flows up from the bottom and out the top. The air conditioning.
During winter, another canvas is attached to the inside covering the draft. It can be rolled up and down as needed. This tepee will not be used as a dwelling, so the inside cover is not placed. Harvey is active with the boy scouts to teach his particular skills. But, he doesn't get many opportunities to put up a grand tepee. The ceremony to bless the dwelling with a gathering of the clan will depend on the health of Grandmother Tanya, who is ill and is the head of the Clan.
The Clan is of mixed tribes who have joined together for their own preservation.  Harvey mentioned that there were about 9,000 different Tribes in North America heavily populated with estimates close to a billion people. Now only 500 distinct tribes exist, most on the west coast. Their combined population is 5,295,700.  They've been decimated by European diseases, Indian Removal Acts, Broken Treaties, Indoctrination, Re-education, Confinement to Reservation life and killing off the buffalo. The loss of dignity, their oral history, art, respect, hope, language and pervasive alcoholism threatens the thin chain of life for many. Another stage of American imperialism and shame. Europeans are a patriarchal society and could never understand or respect a matriarchal society.
The tide is turning but it is still an uphill battle. I hope to be invited to the up-coming ceremony.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

HOSPITAL AGGRAVATION.

I believe I'm reasonably patient. I know about waiting in line. A necessity of life.

I took my lab form to the hospital lab, busy, busy, busy, to accommodate my housemate who needed an endoscopy. I figured I'd get my blood test while she was under the anesthesia. Then have lunch at the cafeteria before heading to  Lowe's to buy some paint.

Her procedure was over before I got out of the lunch room. My registration was one big snafu. (Someday I'll tell you what snafu means.)

But we can rise above such irritations by consulting the sages.

Here then, a French Proverb: "Write your injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble." 
Now that is something worth embracing.

"Humor is an affirmation of dignity, a declaration of man's superiority to all that befalls him."   Romain Gary
Hmmm! I wonder if women are exempt from that advice? Naw! Just kidding. It reminds me when reading the bible with my high school boyfriend, he would add, after all those manly quotes, "That means generic man, man or woman."  I might be a bit cynical, here. Bible, men only need apply?

Well, I ran across this Doctor's Office scenario by Ron Dentinger from Dodgeville, Wisconsin:

"My friend called his doctor's office for an appointment and was told, "'I'm sorry sir, we cannot fit you in for at least six weeks."
"I could be dead by then!"
"No problem, if your wife let's us know, we'll cancel the appointment."

Aha!  That made me laugh. I guess I didn't fail the sages after all.  Thanks to  Ron.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THERE IS ALWAYS A LITTLE BOY IN THE OLD MAN GONE FISHING.

The title quote is from J. Calder Joseph.

I like Science Magazine and I recently read an article about children suffering from slower muscle development and coordination. It apparently has teachers and pediatricians worried enough that studies were conducted on 407,000 children from age five to ten. They blame over-cautious parenting, "Don't get dirty."  "Hold my hand when we take a walk." "Get off the sidewalk, it will ruin your dress."

Parents fearing predators, or accidents, or getting lost, is keeping kids inside, and not encouraging enough social play. The studies proved that play is educating and provides better development of the brain and muscles. When we came home from school, when we finished our chores, we had the whole neighborhood to ramble and get up a game.

I remember when my youngest daughter allowed her kids to bike around the block and a worried parent reported to her that she had seen her son on the other side of the block; what she considered risky behavior.

Stuart Brown, Psychiatrist says: "A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition: It's a risk to your body and mind."

This is a recent quote from 2017 and I don't know where Stuart practices. But I do recall my boys playing on the side-walk or the grass,  snapping those little rolly bugs around like marbles; or trying to catch lizards.  And my daughter coming home from the school playground (where she walked by herself,) with scraped knees and a torn dress.

Diane Furstenberg said: "My best creation is my children."

I love that quote because it is my view of motherhood as well.

"Men want to improve only the world, but mothers want to improve their whole family;  a much harder task." Harriet Freezer.

But the quotes I remember with humor, are those I grew up with. "Children Should Be Seen And Not Heard."  That uttered when my folks were playing a rousing game of Smear. We could watch as long as we didn't kitbitz.

"Little Pitchers Have Big Ears"  When the neighbor lady was visiting and the subject of pregnancy or other delicate matters would come up. Then it was, "Outside with you," or "Go play".  I don't know the origin of those homilies  but it brings me in mind of the clever Americana  art work of Norman Rockwell with the tousled headed boy, sporting a black eye and a huge grin, waiting outside of the principle's office.  Or the little girl hanging out the window of the car sticking out her tongue to the wind.

I think children had more fun growing up before computers and organized and automated everything.

Monday, June 19, 2017

PASSWORD PRISON

I’m ranting today. Not about politics. I have not been blogging regularly and suddenly, I’m asked to sign in with my password that I haven’t used in years and I can’t remember.  But, to get a new password for my blogspot blog, I must have them send it to me on my g-mail address, which password I also can’t seem to find on my 8 pages of passwords. Crossed out and changed,  I have no idea which one is current.

Google bought blogger and everything has to be Google. Google is trying to take over the world and I try to avoid all things Google.

My frustration is the rant. I hate a zillion passwords. We are told not to use the same one for everything. But a new password for everything is not working. Every time you have a snag you change your password.  In a hurry. And Google bought blogger. Grrr! In the interest of my sanity I have to laugh at my self-made password prison. Maybe I can find a quote that addresses passwords?  Hmm. Unlikely.

But there are a lot of them about fools.

“The world is full of fools and; and he who would not wish to see one, should break his mirror.”   Boileau

“There is a foolish corner even in the brain of a sage.”  Aristotle

As for prison:  “We are all prisoners, but some of us are in cells…” Kahlil Gibran

HAVING BABIES AT THIS AGE?



You may remember that Ken and Laurie’s dachshunds were killed by a coyote last year. Well, they have new babies. Rider and Scout. A beautiful pair just 8 weeks old. Babies, just barely potty trained. Laurie swore they would not commit to another pet that lives for twenty years and then breaks your heart when they die. They are your fur children.

Ken has been really involved with these two, since Laurie has been working and he is the major trainer and he loves it. He feels they have really bonded to him.

This is Rider. He has a favorite stuffed toy just like all babies do it seems. He is guarding it from me and wouldn’t let me get near him or his toy.

Brother Clark and Sister-in-law Theresa came with dinner complete and joined us. The guys barbequed steaks and we had some good zinfandel wine. The foursome is headed for the Mellencamp Concert at Kautz. Even I know Mellencamp, “I live in a small town…”
Theresa is a great cook and so is Laurie. I am lucky because I don’t really enjoy cooking for just myself much anymore.

They were off to the concert by 5:30. And I baby-sat the babies. Ken and Laurie are on vacation and took the dogs camping. They socialized them with neighboring campers and bigger dogs. A perfect way. They also have a young neighbor near home who comes once a day to  play with them and take them outside. No diapers to change, but they need a walk.

Pink for Scout and Blue for Rider. They were straining at their leashes to go with Mom, Dad and the crew. Did they socialize with Gram? It was tough. Scout was good and took a long two hour nap. Rider howled and cried and I had to take him outside and walk around and around the house with him. He had to see for himself that the car was gone. He’d smell where it was parked. He was miserable for about three hours. Then, all tuckered out, I grabbed him and held him on the couch and he slept peacefully in my arms. We are sort of friends now. He still isn’t sure I wasn’t responsible for his missing parents. But, he is cautiously letting me pet him if Dad is nearby. Raising babies six years before retirement?  I’m glad it is them and not me. Like all grandchildren. You get to enjoy them when they visit and then send them home. Since I’m into quotes, the most common is “A dog is man’s best friend.”  From whence it came I do not know. This one is funny.
Groucho Marz said:  “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog you can’t read.”

Well, that’s all folks!