Saturday, December 31, 2011


It’s New Years Eve, a cause for celebration. A symbol that all things from 2011 can be put away and everything begins  anew. The idea  is semi-idiotic, but we love its symbol of hope for better things to come.  Why not make a resolution and promise to make the New Year personally better than the year we’ve left behind?   There is room for much improvement in this world,  so, lets celebrate: (Click the link.)

Its time to get the party started and put all cares away:

And have a toast or three to good things to come:
Here’s to the bright New Year
And a fond farewell to the old;
Here’s to the things that are yet to come
And to the memories that we hold.
In the New Year,
may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship,
but never in want.
In the year ahead,
May we treat our friends with kindness
and our enemies with generosity.
“Let us resolve to do the best we can with what we’ve got”, says
William Feather
Worthy thoughts and deeds we set before us. It gives us a breath of happiness to see  the numbers on the new calendar.  Was the old year a good year?  A bad year?  We can spare for one day to set all of it aside and share with others, strangers even,  a bit of nostalgia.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Fracking pumps as many as 900 unregulated chemicals into the ground to open rock beds to get at the oil and gas. The Halliburton Loophole exempts oil companies from major environmental laws, like the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Safe Drinking Water acts. Drillers do not have to reveal what is in the six million gallons of watery chemicals they pump into these wells that have been known to contaminate drinking water. Of course the companies owning these leases want to get at it, but the truth is, fracking isn’t needed. We do have alternatives.

This is my 1994 Chevrolet Electric Car, totally battery operated, still running in 2005 on its original battery pack. It’s range was only 48  miles. Near the end of its life, it could only make it  to the grocery and the dump and back, about 14 miles. That was old battery technology.  My 2001 Prius is still running on its original battery pack and gives no signs of stopping anytime soon.
The mass-produced Nisson Leaf and the Chevy Volt are all doing well.   2011 was a big year for electrics and growing. Well known dependable companies have come out with electric vehicles that work beyond expectations. They are so good, they’ve become luxury cars for the rich. Hundreds of new electric vehicles are out there, and  here are some of the  top green cars, as listed  by Gas.2.0.

Hydrogen Ferrari. This is a student designed concept car and isn’t on the road-yet!  But Id’ like to crawl into one of those. It would make me look 20 years younger.

Rimac Automobilli EV One is a working model with  1,088 horsepower, and a driving range of almost 400 miles. Snazzy, beautiful. The future is here if we have guts enough to say no to big oil.

Brabus 4WD Hybrid Mercedes is a diesel-electric hybrid that provides performance as well as efficiency. This vehicle uses Proton’s in-wheel hub motors for propulsion and improved get-up-and-go.

e-Wolf Alpha 2 EV, with a driving range of 185 miles, a 0-60 mph time of under 4-seconds, and a price tag of over $400,000. Top speed? 230 mph, supposedly. Slated for limited production, none of us are likely to afford one of these, but dreams to come true, and if it weren’t for dreamers, we’d be back in the dark ages.

The only natural gas car that made the list. Maximus LNG 2000 has a highly modified all-aluminum V8 engine that can produce 1,500 horsepower. A 2,000 horsepower version named the Prodigy is also in the works. I’m not big on natural gas but I didn’t make the list and don’t consider it a really green car like electrics.

Porsche Spyder EV plug-in is prohibitively expensive, but Gas.2.0 admires  Porsche for working tremendously hard to integrate hybrid drive trains into their performance vehicles. Porsche is at the forefront of luxury performance hybrids and will probably continue to play with hybrids in the years to come. Good news for all of us.

Veritas Plug-In Hybrid, again, isn’t all electric but these carmakers are concentrating on performance. A barely street legal racer, the Veritas RSIII uses a 600 horsepower 5.0 liter BMW V10 to power the rear wheels, and an electric motor providing another 140 horsepower for the front wheels. An on board flywheel energy recovery system can charge the batteries while driving, or be plugged into a standard outlet, providing up to 30 miles of all-electric driving.

Jaguar CX75 EV was debuted as a twin-turbine concept car late last year and has been greenlighted for production…sans the turbines. It will keep the plug-in hybrid system, allowing the wheel-mounted electric motors to deliver up to 30 miles of all-electric range, as well as a 0-60 mph time somewhere in the 3-second range. What’s the cost for this beauty?  Put your wallet back. About 1.4 mill.  Hey, somebody will buy it!  The future is looking very snazzy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


This Christmas, the  three gifts I bought for my grandkids I would have bought no matter where they were made. One was from Japan, the others were from Taiwan. From the giving tree, you choose a name and buy a gift for a  child in need,  which was a request for a robe, I absolutely could not find a robe in any store that wasn’t made in China.
Just before Christmas, I wanted to buy a picture frame. Small town shopping choices  are limited.  After realizing that every frame in every store came from China,  I went to a custom shop and had it made. Certainly not a choice for people on a limited budget.
At the grocery store, I bought an off brand of pumpkin for pies and much to my irritation, it too, came from China.  I’ve received emails about buying in America and then I received this one from my cousin Karen.  This job producing video was a real eye-opener.

Imports and trade are not all bad for our country.  I’m picking on China for a reason. My neighbor, Jan, had two teachers from China staying with her for a short time on an exchange program earlier this year. They bought a camera made in China. When she questioned their choice  they told her it was cheaper to buy it here than in their own country. I’ve read where China is manipulating money,  doctoring dog food, selling knock-offs illegally, pirating music and other shoddy business practices.  So, visit the Made In America Website after watching this video and see how much power our purchases have.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


The U.S. Constitution has been a model for other countries since its inception more than two centuries ago. Our Bill of Rights is considered one of humanity’s finest achievements. People from many nations have sought refuge here  to enjoy those freedoms. Yet, our current government has suspended important protections in the name of terrorism. A dangerous precedent via the Rave Act, the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act. With those and U.S. drug policies we are the most controlled and monitored society on earth.  There are cameras watching our every move on practically every street corner, every store, every mall. From the satellite above, every vehicle can be tracked by GPS  devices; there is one in every cell phone. Big Brother Is Definitely Watching. And, we’ve allowed it to happen.
Legislators are toying with interfering with our Judicial branch of government, by making laws against the court’s  unpopular decisions. Whether we like them or not we must not give up our checks and balances because they are currently unpopular. Let them stand the test of time.
We must give thought to what is happening in our country and become involved. It has swung out of control, prosperity evades us, and anarchy approaches, carried in a flag with a cross. Thomas Jefferson was famous for the Virginia Statute as much as for writing  the Declaration of Independence. He organized a Virginia  colony that separated Church and State, the very choking environment the colonists left behind in England,  the new colonies wanted to reinstate in “their” particular view of God. Thanks to the Virginia Statute we didn’t have to fight that  same nightmare all over again. And now, religionists are pushing strongly for laws that inject their morality into our laws on same-sex marriage, abortion, doctors rights to counsel, planned parenthood, and other bills slipped by us by both Democrats and Republicans.
With idyllic frenzy we’ve made laws that affect our country negatively. Two million Americans are incarcerated in the U.S., most of them for non-violent drug crimes.  Billions of dollars have been spent building prisons to house all of the Americans convicted of drug crimes. For carrying a half ounce of marijuana, a man who works and supports his children can go to prison for life in California and Texas.  Now Oklahoma is considering a similar law.
We are living in a police state not only from the surveillance, and the drug wars, but an increase in Police over-reaction. Nevada police have skipped free after killing an American Woman who came to the aid of her husband whom they had just killed when they asked him for identification and he reached into his jacket for his wallet. Such things should not happen in America. Protestors tasered, more police attacks on unarmed citizens.  America  imprisons more citizens  than any other nation. The government cannot afford to pay lifetime care for people who could and should be working and paying taxes. It is  insanely expensive and yet, they are willing to pay an informant, even a convicted felon, up to $250,000 to testify against someone charged with a drug crime. Of course, what convicted felon would lie to receive that kind of cash?
America’s prohibitionist policies have eliminated freedom all over the globe and the high money paid for drugs crossing our borders has helped fuel the terrorists instead of our tax purse. It is draconian.
Now, I read where the Occupy Wall Street protests are bothering the government enough to instigate a huge anti-public relations move and that the FBI will penetrate large OWS  groups to sabotage their effectiveness, make petty arrests and harass them.
Beware!  We don’t lose our freedoms, we give them away.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


The family left for home this morning and I began the clean-up which I do in stages. Rolling up sleeping bags, pulling bedding, etc. I also decided to spend a bit of time cleaning up my email. I found one on Christmas pictures I thought I’d share.
Most of us like to take  Christmas photos. Sometimes, in the excitement, they don’t turn out well. Then there is the photo set-up for your yearly Christmas card.  A website lists them as  Awkward/Weird Christmas Photos.
Have a look:
We’ve never done a Christmas family picture for a Christmas Card. But, if Santa had a black eye would you still have the picture taken?

Many of these have questionable logic. What were they thinking?

Monday, December 26, 2011


Christmas morning, Theo got up, opened his stocking and found a book. He plopped immediately to the floor engrossed. We had to shovel him out of the doorway. When everyone was up and had had breakfast, the kids were allowed to open their presents. Having stayed with them a couple of weeks ago, I heard all of the stories about how they guess what their presents are. “You always buy us Lego, Gramma, one shake and we know what it is,” I was told with a smile.  Then Owen confessed to the real tricks. Dousing the ribbons with catnip so the cats would tear open the wrappings. Slitting the taped ends with a knife and peeking at the ends to read the box, then resealing;  pressing the paper tightly and try to read through it; measuring the boxes and comparing those measurements with their favorite toys in the store. Oh, they are clever.

This year, I told them they could shake, rattle and roll and they would not be able to guess. Owen opened his big box, failing at many guesses, to find:

…another box. After five boxes total, he discovered an Ipod. It measures about two inches square.

Theo guessed his gift as a puzzle.  I told him  it does sound like a puzzle but that is not what your gift is.  When he opened it, attached to the puzzle was a note telling him where his gift  was really located, under a quilt, in my office. A Lego game.
I fooled them this year. I’ll have to get smarter by next year.

For Christmas dinner we had five pheasant and two ducks that Ken hunted with his boss.  With a paella salad, and a green salad, we feasted.

When it got dark,  the guys lit the Christmas Tree. The kids played with their new toys and we talked and snacked until 11 p.m. Ken brews his own beer, some of the best he has ever made.
I thank you all for visiting my blog and hope that you’ve had a good year and an especially Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Traditions change from year to year. For us, one daughter and her family missing.
Ken made an amazing beer, his best so far. It has a hint of rosemary and wonderful bitter herbs. He and his family visited his wife, Laurie’s siblings in Lodi because her brother and his wife flew redeye to their son’s wedding in Korea this morning. Its 2011. What varied lives we live.
We spent most of the day playing games, walking the dogs, and stuffing ourselves silly with party foods. It warmed enough for the kids, Owen and Theo, to jump on the trampoline. The weather has been unseasonably warm this December. Dry, too.
I made Chili Verde for dinner, made with chicken rather than pork. I’ve wanted to try it that way for years, and it was very good by all accounts.  (It will never be as good as my friend Norma Tapia’s authentic verde with pork, though.)
The kids were allowed to open one present and the adults wanted to watch a Christmas movie. The kids were so busy  with their new lego games, we ended up watching The Help, a movie about black maids and their horrible treatment by employers in Jackson, Mississippi.  The kids soon got interested and are old enough to question what was going on between the races. For them it seemed unreal that people treated blacks so shabbily.
It was within our lifetime, not that long ago. It amazed  me how “good Christians” could justify treating anyone the way they did. So, on this very Christian commemorative, the reason for the season, as we hear chanted, may Christians around the world pause and consider the true meaning of Christianity, as in love thy fellow man.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Peg Bracken, noted cook and cook book author, claims the best way to keep cookies is in a can marked Rat Poison. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is tempting to save your favorite ones for a later time when you can savor them the more.

Doug arrived first and we made room for his tins. He has several to deliver to the neighbors since I’ve given over the cookie baking to the kids.
Then Laurie unloaded her stash of tins and bags until there was no room.

But, somehow, we stacked tins and Virginia unloaded her treasures.

The many types are the result of Doug trying to out-do Virginia and Vice-Versa. Laurie brings the family favorites and adds something new each year, which happened to be gluten free almond chai cookies and marzipan stollen, so the list goes on and grows. With 22 different kinds of cookies, Virginia wryly commented, the ratio of cookie bakers to cookie eaters is out of kilter with four cookie eaters missing. She was referring to Daughter Kristannne, her husband and two boys who were unable to come for Christmas because of their son Alec’s work schedule.
The cookie factory started years ago when I made cookies with the kids, and sometimes the neighbor kids, allowing them to cut and decorate sugar cookies with paint brushes and bowls of colored frosting.
We traded painted cookies each year with the Evans/Dollar family and one year Joanne Evans said enough, and brought a variety of yummy cookies that didn’t have to be decorated. A nurse, she worked full-time,  often with duty hours during the holidays.  So, the cooky factory got started with more and more different types of cookies, easier to make and better tasting.
It is hard to pick a favorite, but, you might try this one:
1 8oz. package dates chopped., 1/2 cup firmly pkd. brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 tsp. grated fresh orange rind. Cook first five ingredients over low heat, stirring until slightly thickened. Remove from stove and cool a bit.
Beat in two eggs, 2 1/4 cups flour that has 1 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp. of baking soda mixed in it. Add a 16 oz. package of chocolate chips, and 1 cup chopped walnuts and stir.  Drop by rounded spoonfuls  2 inches apart on ungreased sheets. Bake at 375* ten minutes. Remove at once to racks.  Makes 3 dozen. If you cool the ingredients a lot, the chocolate chips stay chunky. If you leave the batter quite warm, the chips get melty. I like them melty.

Friday, December 23, 2011


My gang arrives today. Nostalgia for Christmases past and simpler times come to mind as I sort through old cards, but I know, Christmases past are best remembered and not relived.  I wonder how different my kids remembrances of Christmas will be as they get older and look back.
The beautiful lettering on this card, along with the clothing says “old-fashioned”.

Children cry when meeting a scary department store Santa. What would it be like to see this Father Christmas at the door? Smithsonian Magazine’s website asked people to vote for the scariest Santa from about twenty pictures. There were some doozies.
Quaint language tickles my fancy since I love poetry and doggerel, both :
When Christmas comes to your abode,
May care be laid aside,
That naught but cheer, good will and mirth,
And joy and peace abide.
We wish you a glad, merry Christmas
Surrounded by dear ones and friends;
We wish you a sweet, pleasant pathway,
For New Year, wher’er it wends.
And from 1931 :
We hope you’ll have a drumstick that is eatable,
Potatoes mashed , and gravy of the best,
A slab of mince or pumpkin pie unbeatable,
And-it doesn’t  matter much about the rest.
Today, I’ll finish any cooking to be done ahead of time, clean out the ashes in the stove, stack in some wood, turn on the music and wait for the best part of Christmas-the family’s arrival.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The older I get, the simpler my Christmas becomes. I feel closer to old friends as I write my cards.

As a family, we gave up giving each other gifts long ago, except for the children. As I age, I know that Christmas is a matter of the heart and we value the gift of time with each other over anything else. That includes the food,  an important part of our shared time together. Special dishes, lovingly and thoughtfully prepared.

Fond remembrance for Christmases past. The profound enjoyment of the music, the tinkling of bells. Teasing the kids, perpetuating the magic, and looking at Christmas through their eyes.

Appreciating the trappings of the season all around us, glowing lights, cheery voices, the smells of cedar and pine, the colors shining bright, secret smiles, hidden glances, the scurry and hurry and expectation of things to come.

And Peace. We don’t expect World Peace to happen as much as we may wish it. But, in our country or city neighborhoods,  where Christmas dwells, 80% or more  people take a day out of their work to celebrate Christmas, and there is a sense of peace. Little traffic on the road. The quiet of a neighborhood as everyone turns inward to reflect upon the  beauty, the warmth,  holiday hugs, the family together, the deeper meaning of Christmas Spirit. Love, Joy, Hope and at least, a day of peacefulness.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Yesterday was a quiet day. I made two cranberry dishes, good keepers,  for Christmas. The last three years, I have not baked cookies for Christmas. My youngest son and daughter have taken over that task, and it had become a task more than a joy. It was good to let it go and enables me to slow down a bit, and take in the season leisurely. Kind of checking through the cookbooks to think about something different and festive to make for the holidays; polishing up the house for company in stages.

An old friend dropped by for a chat and a glass of wine. Bert is a Vietnam Vet who almost didn’t make it. Still, he claims, he’s suffered more from a car accident 25 years ago than the war. Bert is a prankster and once put up highway survey stakes across our orchard and caused my husband to think the county was cutting across our property for a new road!  He loved watching George “hit the ceiling.”
Last night, with my new leisure,  I came upon a PBS program I’d never seen before called Lidia Celebrates America. It’s a food show and I came away a fan. I looked up the program on-line and Voila! I can watch it on-line,  if I so choose. I probably won’t, but  I know I can. Somehow it is  satisfying just knowing I have the option.  I’m glad Christmas doesn’t happen all at once. We  slide into Christmas a bit each day. Getting out the lights and decorating. Attending a party or two. Donating to the food bank and wrapping a present for a child in need.  Sending  cards and letters, catching up with old friends I don’t see much anymore.

Murphys puts on a free Christmas dinner every year for anyone who wishes to attend. All are welcome. They are expecting a bigger than usual crowd this year. I know the city of Pleasanton has a free Thanksgiving dinner every year and The Little Red Church in Sonora feeds people one  free meal every day. We’ve come a long way since the days of the work houses and poor houses. It wasn’t that long ago that poor houses existed. Orphanages were full. My own great-grandfather had to take his children to an orphanage when his wife died because he couldn’t take care of them and work too. He eventually found a wife and was able to get them back. Before I was born,  a baby was left on my Grandmother’s doorstep because someone chose a family for a child they couldn’t take care of.  They were hard times. And I sometimes marvel that coming from a hardscrabble background, I’m affluent, I know no hunger, and I have leisure and choices. Would that it were true for everyone.

We must not lose the American dream that changed us and the world for the better.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I celebrate every gift I get. This one is a biggie. I believe  Berkeley, CA was the first city to ban plastic bags in grocery stores. San Francisco followed.  Coastal North Carolina did the same. Now, Seattle follows Bellingham, WA  but their ban does more.
The Seattle City Council passed a broad ban on plastic bags Monday, outlawing them not just in grocery stores, but in department stores, clothing stores, convenience stores, home-improvement stores, food trucks and farmers markets.
The bill goes further than bans in other cities, which have largely banished plastic only groceries and sometimes drug stores. Customers in Seattle will still be able to get paper bags from retailers, but for a 5-cent fee.
Monday’s bill exempts customers on food assistance and other government benefits from the bag fee. The city will also make free or reduced-cost reusable bags available to poor people.
The ordinance applies only to single-use, checkout bags, and not to produce, bulk-ban and dry-cleaning bags. Plastic bags for take-out restaurant food are also still allowed, because they help protect health and safety while transporting hot food and liquid.
Read more:
I shop with my own bags and my little grocery store, Sierra Hills Market,  will reward you with a $25 gift certificate, for using your own shopping bag. People who use their own bags are allowed to mark their name and phone number on a small paper by the checkstand and put it in the draw box. I’ve won the certificate, once. I regularly see about four others using their own bags.
A chain grocer in nearby Angels Camp tried the “recycle” your plastic bags idea. The container was always stuffed full of plastic bags and was emptied regularly in the dumpster. The bags are cheaply made, tear easily, don’t hold much and the only person I ever saw taking recycled bags on their way into the grocery store was-ME.  It just doesn’t change habits.
“A study a few years ago “found that the inks and colorants used on some bags contain lead, a toxin. Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they’ve been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It’s equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil.”
So, I celebrate it as a gift to our common environment. I’ve seen pictures of animals entrapped and dying from plastic bags drifting into their environment. And, just a reminder, there is a huge glob of plastic bags the size of the state of Texas in the ocean vortex where water circulates and keeps  miles of  plastic  afloat.  Other countries have banned bags in some cities.  Mexico City, twelve towns in Australia, Rangoon, Burma, Five major cities in India, London, Rawanda, the whole country is bag free.

It seems to me this is an opportunity for college students across the country to collectively  push for plastic bag bans in their communities. Hey, they know how to solve the deficit.  Over and again, they have proved to be smarter, and more effective than our do nothing government.

Monday, December 19, 2011


My neighbor, Jan,  is known for popping in for five minutes, always with some  ulterior m0tive.  She decided I was lacking “bling”. You can see the  bling on  my shoulder.
I had hired a homeless guy, looking for work,  to do some chores around the place. He told me he had worked as a roofer, had some carpentry skills, knew how to use a chain saw, etc.  I have a storage shed with warped doors and I asked him if he could fix them. He did and I gave him some paint to paint the shed. Unfortunately, he painted the doors shut. So, I asked my friends to help me get the doors open.    Jan is one of those people who likes to have  fun with anything she does, and she likes ceremonies. She grabbed a pot to beat on, and Karen, my housemate,  is half Cherokee and did a ceremonial dance.

While they did their work,  I used a hacksaw blade to cut through the thin coating between the two doors.

It wasn’t budging. My crowbar and nail puller both disappeared but I had a long,  strong mechanic’s screwdriver. It took some doing to pry the doors open without wrecking them.

That’s when we discovered he had nailed the doors shut. I guess he figured he wasn’t coming back anyway. Gotta take laughter where you find it.  And, what the hey, the guy needed the money.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


It doesn’t look like Congress is going to do anything, anytime soon. We are broke, in trouble and struggling. The food banks are overwhelmed. Cities are going broke. Higher education is unaffordable. People on the street are weathering this mess.  They will survive as the song says. And all around me I hear wisdom, wit and a bit of sarcasm that at least brings some levity to the mess.

From the New York Times:   “It’s been such a stunning year,” said Cecile Richards, the organization’s perpetually embattled president. “More than a million new activists joined Planned Parenthood, and our approval rating is at 68 percent. Congress is I think at 9.” (It may be time to stop pointing out that you have a higher approval rating than Congress. Really, everything has a higher approval rating than Congress. Termites. Zombies. Donald Trump.)

“The idea that we have to destroy the environment and kill workers to have a healthy economy must be put to rest. …regulations are actually catalysts of technical innovations and economic development.”  Negah Mouszoon.

“A nuclear disaster is too big a price to pay for our electric bill.”  Ralph Nader

From the Los Angeles Times:  "The health care law is likely to put the brakes on the profit bonanza from biotech drugs.”

“Don’t blame medicare. Fix it.”  Barry Rand, CEO AARP.

“...more tax breaks for the rich is only one of the symptoms of an econimic and political system that is grotesquely failing the average American.”‘ Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

“Instead of throwing children out of Head Start or cutting back on Community Health Centers, maybe we want to ask Exxon Mobil to actually pay taxes rather than get a refund.” Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)   (GE, Exxon,Citigroup, Boeing and others have paid little or no tax.)

“You need to understand, it isn’t gridlock in Congress, it is roadblock. Gridlock  happens, roadblock is deliberate.”  Congressional candidate Will Moore.

When students at Flagler College in Florida were asked to balance the budget, they had the same options that paralyze Washington. The human consequences of their decisions were very much on their minds as in: “… we don’t want to throw grandma out on the street and deny health care services.”  Hey, these kids are smart. They took the long view, sacrifices should be a shared responsibility. They didn’t cut education, protected the environment and didn’t touch Social Security.  They froze wages for congress; used carbon tax to clean up the environment. They made sizable defense cuts, closed tax loopholes and added or raised taxes including higher gasoline taxes and a new 5% sales tax that will make their Big Macs sky-high.  Across the board, they were evenhanded and sensible.
Don’t you just love it? Our kids are smarter than Congress.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Yesterday, my congressional candidate brother, Will, visited  Cousin Gary visiting from Southern, CA. Gary had never been to an Occupy Wall Street protest because, as he put it, “I’m not interested in closing ports and businesses where people have jobs. And, I don’t want to lay down in the street.”

He also confessed to not quite understanding what the point is. While vitriolic radio show hosts criticize and condemn the movement as pointless and leaderless, I notice that all National news organizations are covering this movement- because  it has legs.  As one local protester, Rick Mines put it, “Protesting the concentration of wealth and power held by less than 1 percent of the population is an effort to  save capitalism.  Capitalism has to be fair,”  (And I would add regulated.)
You can’t compete when some guy is putting $100 million down to put a  Supreme Court Justice in place, or when 80% of congress regards their major job in governing is to get rich by way of  hand-outs, insider trading, and million dollar jobs when they leave. I take heart because the long term apathy among the general population is finally over. You couldn’t get people to take to the streets. That has changed all over the world as well as  in our highly conservative mountain counties, Tuolumne, Calaveras and Amador.

It was a small band on a cold December evening during the busy Christmas season. Two young students were there. The only other woman said to me, “In our county we are all part of the 99%. We don’t have any concentration of wealthy here. But, it is still important to let people know, its time to take a stand and we desperately need change and jobs and a robust middle class.”

This sign speaks to an issue that may be more important than the government laws that tilt toward the wealthy.  It is a slippery slope to a fascist state when we weaken our first amendment rights.  There are many good things in the NDAA, like protections for whistleblowers. But, we are not to know if sub-par maintenance of our airplanes is a factor in crash. We cannot know who contributed what to the congressional committee people overseeing the granting of government contracts. On any contract,  any savings realized cannot be directed to the National Debt once the money has been set aside and is not used for that project. No clue to where that money WILL go. Suspected terrorists will not have the same rights of trial, detention, and ability to defend themselves as we do now. There are good things in the act, but  many slippery areas. The idea to audit the Defense Department Budget was soundly rejected. Hmmm. It’s on-line. Read it.

Friday, December 16, 2011


My cousin, Gary, is visiting me for a few days. A widower, he is trying to come to terms with a splintered life, making this Christmas different from any other. I spent time last night demonstrating the wonders of the computer. I think I convinced him to buy one and get involved in the on-line community.
I had him laughing at some animated jokes and reality segments that found  their way into my mailbox, one of a cowboy being given a drunk test, probably still out there on Youtube  under the title Best_DUI-Stop Ever. And another of cops stopping people in their underwear. Both  hilarious.
I then had him pick a subject and went to my search engine and found all he needed to know about surplus airplane parts. (His former business.)
We looked at nuggets of wisdom that come through the mail as well as marketing lies and blatant promotions to pick up $30,0000 from a poor immigrant that just needs your signature to get it from the bank.
I enjoyed the cruise through my picture files as well since we share a lot of childhood memories. It dawned on me how much I depend on the internet, for news, information, fact checking of rumors, jokes, beautiful pictures from the greatest photographers in the world. Such a deal in a box. It boggles my brain at how  many people I know who don’t get on the internet highway.
My neighbor popped over with a plate of Christmas cookies and we enjoyed a treat before bed.  Life will move swiftly away from you unless you make an effort to catch it by the tail and fly.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


One year, about age six, my favorite Christmas gift was a Christmas card. I take great pleasure from them now and have a tendency to keep them forever, much to my kids dismay.  It’s harmless enough.

The yearly ritual of a Christmas letter for me began in 1988. It was disconcerting to have distant friendships from the past reduced to a Christmas card each year.  Sending a short personal message in each card wasn’t enough. Besides,  my penmanship is practically unreadable.

Friends often send a family photo, or a personal work of art made into a card. Mine are pretty dull, without photos. My parents had twenty siblings, thus cousins number over one  hundred. Now I can send Christmas greetings  on-line.

Internet cards, or a simple message has replaced cards for many of us. I treasure my email as much as I miss the cards.

My new ritual is to read last year’s Christmas letters, and cards, then put them away in a box. Then as Christmas approaches,  I take out old cards,  from any year,   to enjoy the beauty and sentiments.

Or the whimsy as in Happy Moo Year.