Saturday, January 7, 2017

TAKING DOWN A GIANT.

dsc09088-copy
A one hundred foot tree has shaded the west side of my house for 18 years. An old, giant, live oak. A tree expert pointed out a rotten core in the tree and warned me of the danger it posed hanging over my bedroom roof. I didn't want to do it. I just hugged that rugged trunk and called it my friend and thanked it for its many years of shade.  The smallest part of the trunk was an easy fall.
dsc09090-copy
Down it went and it was just slice and dice.
dsc09095-copy
Nate's Tree Service has a cherry picker to raise the sawyer up to the tree top. But the soil was so wet and muddy, it was in danger of getting stuck. The chipper could not maneuver between the trees, so the guys dragged the brush to the chipper.
dsc09102-copy
That didn't stop the job. They came prepared. The climber took over. He whacked his way up the main trunk to the roof.
dsc09103-copy
Some of the big laterals are the size of small trees.
dsc09106-copy
Once into the over story, the climber struggled with the thick brush, hand cutting his way to follow the limb and gain a foothold and a place to drag his ropes and hooks along with the chain saw he was wearing.
dsc09107-copy
The tree fills the sky, hovers over the roof and in one place a far reaching trunk bends heavily toward the ground. A tree close to the house doesn't crush the house when it falls. The danger is when a  distant  tree goes over and slams into the structure. I didn't want to cut this old friend. But wet soil, with nine days of steady rain in the forecast plus the possibility of a cold snap putting heavy snow on the limbs made me wary. I decided it had to go. The rotten core was just about roof level and about four feet long.
dsc09113-copy
The sawdust and a huge chunk 0f a lateral branch fall to the ground.
dsc09109-copy
All clear, the guys on the ground cut off the brush and haul it to the chipper.
dsc09115-copy
With most of the big laterals removed, the tree is looking skinny but the top has to go first and there is still a lot of tree up in the air.
dsc09132-copy
Finally, the top succumbs to the saw.
dsc09139-copy
He cuts himself down the tree. That piece of blue sky on the right is where the tree used to be.
img_0014-copy
The biggest hunk goes down. Part of the rotten spot visible.
img_0011-copy
Piece by piece, by piece.
img_0003-copy
Goodbye, old friend.
img_0015-copy
When all was down on the ground, the rot wasn't bad. My tree could have stood for another 50 years-maybe.  I have yet to count the rings to determine its age.  But, I have already planted a replacement for this tree and now it will have a better chance to grow with more sunlight.
I was very impressed with Nate's Tree Service. The guys blew the sawdust off the roof, porches, my driveway, even places where they made no mess. They shoveled chips in any spots on the ground that were disturbed by the heavy truck tires and left my place looking great. They were, in a word, awesome.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

NEW YEAR'S DAY HIKE.

img_0450-copy
From Highway 49, Glory Hole Recreation District at New Mellones, a free hike was advertised for New Years Day, rain or shine. You can see people warmly dressed as we strangers met at the entrance station and introduced ourselves.
img_0451-copy
Dogs are allowed on the trails. We met two bikers and we saw evidence of horses using the trails. Walkers are asked to give way to horses, but we didn't meet any.
img_0452-copy
Ranger Josh, guided the group and pointed out the growth patterns of this type of forest and explained in some detail the various flora and fauna.img_0455-copy
At the beginning of the Angels Creek Trail, the forest has a mixture of digger pines, black oak, live oak and thick underbrush.  Ranger Josh admitted the underbrush is a fire hazard with chemise and buck brush.
img_0457-copy
I was impressed by the girth of this giant manzanita specimen and the lichens and bright, green moss growing on it. Ranger Josh noted that the east side of the hills get most of the water. He told us that manzanita burns very hot and can burn up your stove, actually melt it if you use enough of it.
img_0463-copy
Angels Creek is low, in tune with the current drought situation. The trail is a 2.5 mile hike.
img_0472-copy
I looked at just about every mushroom, hoping to find a "buckskin". (Not it's scientific name.) The old Italians knew their mushrooms and would pick up large delicious mushrooms under manzanita habitat. I didn't find a one. Deer feed on these, as do various insects.
img_0453-copy
I didn't get many pictures of the hikers. Strung out in a line, it is hard to capture everyone. The trail is narrow in most places. Looking back and forth I believe we had about 30 people on the hike. The Calaveras side of the Recreation Area has seven trails of different lengths and are rated easy, moderate, challenging and so on. This trail is moderate.
img_0454-copy
When guided, Ranger Josh makes many stops and he even played a couple games with us. He formed us into a walking caterpillar, eyes closed, to just walk and tune your ears, nose and senses to the trail. If you are a lone hiker, you get the sense of quiet that being in a natural forest gives you.
img_0466-copy
The sun didn't come out during our 3 hour hike. This tree, etched against the overcast made a nice contrast, with the west side of the hill in the distance showing meadows; more barren than the brushy east hillside.
img_0471-copy
At the end of the trail was a pretty view of the lake with an island showing that isn't visible when the water level is normal. Drought conditions persist here in California though the recent rains are encouraging. The Calaveras side has seven trails and the  Tuolumne County, Tuttletown Recreation area also has seven trails.  Senior Citizens, with their pass can enter the hiking trails free at anytime of year. For most, there is a day use charge.

This was my first excursion with a new social singles group  and I got to meet the seven people at the end of the hike. Cindy is the key organizer and can be reached at this phone number if you are interested in joining. I didn't ask permission to print her phone number, (no addresses are given), but her number was published in the newspaper ad for this hike, so here goes. 209-559-8517. The only qualification, you must be 50 or older. We picked up two new members at this event.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

CHRISTMAS FUN.

dsc09014-copy
Christmas every year looks almost the same at my house. Endless cards and games between gnoshing.  Theo, Cedric (hidden) Kristanne and Doug play 13, the national card game of Viet Nam while...
dsc09015-copy
...while Mason and Virginia play cribbage at the other end of the table. People change places, step in and out of games and in general have a good time.
dsc09019-copy
We chose a Mexican theme for this Christmas. Christmas Eve dinner was home-made chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice and pinto beans with a romaine salad. As the family members grow, it's tough to fit everyone in with one picture.
dsc09024-copy
After dinner we took a walk into the night to look back at the lights and found our selves in awe of the starry, starry night. Stars so close we could see the constellations and Milky Way as though touchable. Virginia started a carol and we stood in the street and sang and gave thanks that light pollution has not blocked ancestral skies on our tiny portion of the planet.
dsc09018-copy
Grandson, Stewart, home from Japan for Christmas, brought this sample of Japanese foods. He taught us how easy Japanese is to learn because the characters are so consistent. If a character means house, or rock or walk, it will always mean that no matter how many characters in a sentence.  His brother, Mason, easily picked up some Japanese words. Leave it to the young.
dsc09074-copy
Christmas day was more of the same. My brother, Bill, left, joined us for the afternoon. We are playing elevator with Stewart, Virginia, Mason, Owen, Ken and myself. At the opposite end of the table, Theo, Doug, Kristanne and Laurie play RummiKub.
dsc09054-copy
We played around with hats and I thought of some artists paintings as I looked at what the camera did to Mason's arm. One giant appendage and one shrunken.
dsc09063-copy
I rarely wear this hat, but I love it.
dsc09064-copy
It has seven watches glued on it, plus other fascinating pins, buttons, beads and junk.
dsc09030-copy
I bought a Playboy jacket at a second hand store just for the buttons. (I'm a collector.)  We had great fun with it. I liked this picture of Owen, though a bit blurry and in a distracting background.
dsc09034-copy
It's tough to get Owen to stand still for a picture, but I love this smile.
dsc09036-copy
And Dad, too. I liked this one though the light wasn't quite right.
dsc09047-copy
But he liked a different one. I think he was trying not to laugh.
dsc09060-copy
Stewart said, no way. The hat was too small and he couldn't get the jacket on his second arm.
dsc09022-copy
None of these pictures are in the correct order. I didn't remember to take a picture of our Christmas Day dinner, which was chili rellenos with an apple and cabbage pomegranate coleslaw, and home made-by Doug and Virginia- Chicken, Pork and chili cheese tamales. Goodt stuff.
dsc09070-copy
Before we finished Christmas dinner, the desert table was almost bare.
dsc09068-copy
We had our anonymous book trade, only three to open. And, all too soon, it was bedtime for me,  the picture taker. My ears picked up hushed conversation sliding under my bedroom door as I succumbed to sleep.
dsc09078-copy
The next morning, everyone was up bright and early. Ken and Laurie's family drove back to Reno in time to put Stewart, Mason and Kristanne on an Airplane for Las Vegas. Home for Mace and Stan; Stewart will reconnect with his girlfriend before returning to Japan.
My cup runneth over.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

ONE PERSON, ONE VOTE.

dsc09003-copy
I attended the Resistance Event against the Electoral College on the steps of the Sacramento State Capitol. People in every state were rallying, though only six showed up in Madison, Wisconsin, and Trump supporters tell us to "quit whining". People are disgusted to think a candidate can win 2.8+ million votes, but  because of the way the electoral college works, her opponent won the election. He is our president too and people are fearful of his destructive agenda so this rally looks more like a hate Trump rally. The crowd grew from 400 to over 1,000 people.
dsc09005-copy
My daughter Virginia and I attended together. I was hoping to meet with a friend Galen Hazelhofer and the first person she ran into was Virginia. Galen is on the right. In such a big mob of people I was amazed we connected. And, speaking of the big mob of people, the organizers were concerned about violence. But there was none at this morning to afternoon event but the night before, 150 people protested and closed a couple of streets and took over a tower in downtown Sac. They were all anti-Trump. As many of you know, my co-blogger is a Trump supporter while I stand in the opposite camp. I think if people make an effort to at least consider other's points of view, we have a better chance of building a better and stronger democracy.
dsc09008-copy
The organizers encouraged us to talk to Trump supporters and figure out what we have in common and where we largely differ. Two Trump supporters showed up at the rally. Virginia interviewed the man above and they talked for about twenty minutes. The young man was articulate, kind, sincere, educated and a veteran. I thought he had courage to come in the face of so many Anti-Trump people in evidence. His support comes from his veteran beliefs and that Obama did not do enough for vets. His friend was the opposite end of the spectrum, basically a war monger. Kind of like Allen West who quoted Trump's choice of "Mad Dog Mattis" for Secretary of Defense: "Obama fired him (Mattis) to save the Muslims, Trump hired him to exterminate them." And, "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."  Taken out of context I'm not sure what that means, but saying those things publicly doesn't give me confidence in Trump's choices.
dsc09011-copy
Even so, the rally wasn't about hate. There were exhortations-do not revert to violence, anger and hate, but to build on what we know is good and protest vocally what we know is not good. And that probably sums it up best.
dsc08998-copy
The organizers brought a Russian journalist to the podium. She declared that Putin considers the United States their worst enemy. Her message was clear. Make no mistake, Putin is not our friend. He made Europeans wonder why a U.S. President would give Putin any sort of gesture of approval after the slaughter at Aleppo.
dsc09000-copy
The organizers brought a woman from Berlin who wanted to tell the world that after the Berlin Wall fell, East Germany was a drag on the economy, no decent infra-structure, crumbling buildings; a fearful, mistrustful, population. It took years and a lot of investment to heal the rift and bring the country to unity. Let's not let that happen to us.
dsc09010-copy
A famous science professor described the attack Trump's agenda will have on climate change. He chose for the Environmental Protection Agency a person who claims climate change doesn't exist, it's a hoax. No wonder people are angry about Trump's shortsightedness. Hundreds of environmental organizations have charted and changed toxic rivers into healthy streams; protected corals from acidic oceans;  introduced native fish, wolves, birds and a multitude of threatened species to their original habitat and made visible, measurable, positive differences to our shared space. Corporations who have changed their business models to account for climate change have not spoken up or made suggestions to Trump. But, they know it is less expensive to accommodate climate change  and move forward than to clean up afterword.
dsc09004-copy
Of course, that isn't going to happen, but that was the mood and what should have happened, in my opinion and many others.  And, early, before so many people showed up, I counted 5 wheelchairs. What a testament to courage and commitment.
dsc09002-copy
The organizers brought Christi Pelosi, a member of the Electoral College who spoke about the way it operates in California and how it operates in some other states. It is obvious that such a divided electoral college and its upside down results does not represent the majority of voters.  It is an antiquated bill from 1787 that established the electoral college. I always thought the electoral college bill was established on the premise of the founding fathers belief the uneducated peasants didn't know enough about what was going on in their country to be trusted to vote. But it wasn't against uneducated peasants. It was to protect slavery and ensure that blacks did not vote. What a shame that people cannot get over bigotry. Blacks to this day do not get fair treatment in a country that is a beacon of freedom to the world.
dsc09012-copy
These dogs were very popular at the rally. When Virginia and I left at 2:00, the protestors were marching around the State Capitol, and by the time we got into our car to head for home, the March completely surrounded the capitol. I was very disappointed in the early footage of the rally in the Sacramento Bee. They didn't see the half of it.