Thursday, March 28, 2013


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Here a photo of a re-enactment where Confederate meets a Union soldier. All in fun.
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Women played their part. In fact we all costumed up and learned much about the Civil War period as it affected the Mormons at this museum.
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Frontier women were very feminine, but able and ready to protect themselves in a clinch.
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Jim, with his New England accent could only play the part of  a Yank.
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Most people visit Las Vegas to gamble. The one-armed bandit was present at this museum.
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And, neon signs? An R about seven feet tall.
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And this wagon and livery stables? Amazing.  Right in the middle of the city. People who visit Las Vegas don’t see it in the colorful brochures that abound. This picture is worth clicking to enlarge for detail.  We were there in 2010. A great shift from all the glitz. I believe the re-enactors volunteer on Saturdays if memory serves. Great fun!

Still no fix on my Picasa photo uploader. Its time to get working on my taxes, anyway.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


In yesterday’s blog my partner was complaining about the photography ban in the famous mansion he was visiting. As prolific travelers and photographers, we come up against bans all the time. My daughter, Kristanne, happened upon two articles on the subject and sent them to me.

First, let me explain that I visited the Louvre in 1987 and I was amazed that they allowed flash photography. They obviously weren’t worried about flash damaging their treasures. Tests have proved that flash is no more damaging than the gallery lighting. Jim and I rarely use flash. I like it in a darkened bar with intended gloom and colored neon lights.

Now, the excuse is, they think you won’t buy post cards or other items in the museum store if you take photos. That doesn’t hold water either. In the Louvre I bought beautiful prints of famous artwork as gifts. I buy post cards all the time. And sometimes books.

Another excuse, the copyright laws are trampled upon. Sure, people in droves are going to take a picture of someones work, copy it, sell it,  and pass it off as their own?  It is ludicrous. I doubt it has ever happened.

Most galleries allow photos, some don’t. The bans are laughable, really, because every gallery, save one exception, where the owners control the gallery, they love it when you photograph their work. They are getting free advertising. You name their gallery and give an example of what they do. If the owners love it, why wouldn’t all artists like it?

And, my final point on the subject, any brochure advertising a mansion, a ghost town, a gallery, an event, a visitors center, shows a picture because a picture entices you to want to see more. Any magazine describing  a circus, an event, a beautiful town, provides a picture. And, most telling, magazines constantly tout food at restaurants. They usually publish a picture and a famous recipe or two. And providing the recipe does NOT keep customers away, as they used to believe.

We obey their bans but our readers who can’t ever get there miss out. That is why I resent the bans.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


This scientist once approved the killing of 40,000 elephants to cure overgrazing in Africa. He knows now he got it terribly wrong.
In this astounding video presentation, his mistake made him careful and he answered a question that puzzled scientists for many years. It has great portent for all of us sharing a finite planet and may be the most important solution to reversing climate change. Don’t miss this video.

Monday, March 25, 2013


This comes from my Smithsonian Magazine. They chose  towns with less than 15,000 population that are big on culture as the 20 best small towns in America for 2013.
What makes a small town big on culture?  Exceptional concentrations of museums, art galleries, orchestras, theaters, historic sites and other cultural blessings.
If the air is a little fresher, the grass greener, the pace gentler than in metropolitan America? All the better.  Generally, they’re devoted to preserving their historic centers, encouraging talent and supporting careful economic growth. There’s usually an institution of higher learning, too.

Most important are the people, unpretentious people with small-town values and high cultural expectations—not a bad recipe for society at large. As a sign on a chalkboard in Cleveland, Mississippi (our No. 2 pick) puts it, “Be nice. The world is a small town.”

Here is the List:

1. Gettysburg, PA.,             11. Galena, IL
Cleveland, MS.,                   Sausalito, CA
St. Augustine, FL.,               Hanover, NH.
Baraboo, WI,                      Oberlie, OH.
Astoria, OR,                         Jackson, WY.
Petoskey, MI,                       Lexington, KY.
Fairfield, IA.,                         Abilene, KS.
Los Alamos, NM.,                  Lihue, HI
Sitka, AK,                            Fredricksburg, TX.
Provincetown, MA.,              Glenwood Springs, CO.

I’m pleased to note I’ve visited Gettysburg, Baraboo, Astoria, Sitka ,Provincetown, Sausalito, and Fredricksburg. And in all cases, I found them delightful. So, traveler, fit one of these in your plans and you won’t regret it.

Read more about the towns they’ve chosen at their link.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I finally found a fix on-line for my Picasa program’s inability to upload my photos. It turns out, it is a problem with Picasa. I went through their fix, but it didn’t work for me. So, I’m back to square one. It takes too long to blog each morning and still get accomplished what I’ve returned home to do. Mainly, get my medical file with the doctor’s signature to have my expenses reimbursed from the accident in May; taxes finished; and a new building designed, permitted, etc. on my Oregon Property; plus theraputic exercise each morning. Conclusion, I’ll be blogging sporadically for awhile. I’m absolutely jealous that I’m not in Natchez with the friendly folks Jim is having fun with.

I can always reach back in time and put up an old picture I liked such as this "mudbug".

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Saturday, March 23, 2013


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I went yesterday to visit the Alameda County Archive and Museum. The Old Guard Tower  has been relocated and rebuilt, but not restored. Unfortunately, none of the original materials were saved. It is newly painted, bright and true to the original colors and basic design and, of course, the vast difference between the old and the new guard tower on the grounds is stark. The new one has electricity, heat, a telephone and its own toilet. The old was considered an “outdoor” assignment.
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Every time I visit the archive, I find something new. This picture was taken in 1913 of a deputy who worked for Alameda County along with his gun and badge. The acquisition was brought to the archive but the information about this gentleman’s service has yet to be researched and printed up. We wondered whether the hounds were used to aid the department in any way? Click on the picture to make it larger.
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Another new acquisition was a set of kilts. The department has a pipe band. They play at funerals and parades for the department. Years ago, underwater rescue, any aerial pictures taken for the department, the mounted posse, spotting planes during WWII,  search and rescue, were auxiliary activities done by volunteers. The pipe band falls into that category.
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Another acquisition is this newspaper story of the Mayor of Sunol, a dog named Bosco. Sunol is a sleepy little town between Niles and Pleasanton in the Niles Canyon. Bosco is no longer living, but his reputation lives on at the archive.  Bosco’s story reminds me of my blog from La Conner, WA. called “Dirty Biter”, a similar town dog honored with a statue on the Main St.
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Retired deputy Pat Higgins Jr. came to visit. His father retired from the department as well.
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Jim Knudsen with Al Ianarelli and Bill Rhodes, came to tell us his Uncle, Gene Davidson is the oldest living Deputy Sheriff from the department and will be feted at his 100th birthday later this month.  We have a manuscript of his remembrances of service from the early days with some amazing stories of bootlegging, wide open gambling, prostitution, and frontier justice.
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In the afternoon, we had a first time visitor to the archive, retired Deputy Glenn Moon. He is recovering from a bike accident and decided to come for a visit. He is now on my list to interview for the archive.
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We have quite a collection of inmate weapons, tatoo devices, drug paraphernalia and now, with this acquisition, lock picks. The ingenuity of an inmate intent on making something from whatever he can find, is ever fascinating. The tines of a leaf rake, a couple of them still show the green paint, used to open locks. I wish I had a set.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


In an hour, I leave for the Alameda County Sheriffs Archive where they are having a ceremony to dedicate the rebuilding and moving of an old jail Guard Tower. It was rebuilt, retaining as much of the original materials as possible, about 1990 or so. The Association decided it needed replacing because part of the flooring had completely rotted out. But, more on that when I return.
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Over the years, I’ve learned there are very few Police Museums in the United States, mainly because there are destroy orders for just about everything related to police work once they have passed a certain date. We are lucky to have accumulated and pulled together artifacts and history of the people and procedures of law enforcement in the County of Alameda. We are also fortunate that we’ve had the permission and support of the reigning Sheriff along the way, who was Sheriff Plummer when we started in 1989 and current Sheriff, Ahern, now.  All volunteers work and assesssion the archive materials, refurbish artifacts and display them for posterity.  Sitting on the “pattern” table, an old store fixture donated to us, is a pepper fogger, refurbished by Les Moore. It sprays tear gas at an advancing mob and was used during the civil unrest of the 1970′s. When the retired deputies get together and talk they remember the first time they used it, the wind shifted and they ended up gassing themselves. (It is only funny now.)
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This cycle shield and calling cards were donated to the archive in 2012. We still don’t have much of a history on Berdoo. The Angels and the Cops have a checkered history. They knew each other by first names because the encounters were so frequent. The Angels got started in Alameda County and riders today still like to imitate their “bad guy” persona. The Angels have cleaned up their act in recent years. An interesting story if someone could write it. Sonny Barger wrote his memoirs and it was loaned to my husband, (who arrested Sonny more than once), by the wife of Angel Magoo. Magoo died young and my kids went to high school with their kids and they are still friends today. Magoo’s wife, Lynn Tinsley, and a couple of her brothers also rode with the Angels. She wanted to raise her kids away from that reputation and did. She died in about 2004.
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Because we are on a former military base, Camp Shoemaker, the department inherited many items from the military including the nickname for their brig, Greystone. Greystone became the punishment detention area for the jail. Old Santa Rita was torn down and rebuilt in 1985 as a prison, a jail no longer, a complete lock-down facility. We are there to document the changes from its inception in 1948, under Sheriff Gleason. Gleason was sheriff when I was hired in 1958, and I’ve known every sheriff since then. This has been and is an interesting project that my husband (since deceased)  and I started in 1988.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


When I’m home, I read the news. I probably shouldn’t because it makes me angry. So, howzit doing out there? I read where Assault Weapons have been removed from the bill to Ban Assault Weapons.  Guess the gun lobby won. Hmmm!  Why am I not surprised?

And, lets see, what was accomplished after our ten-year war with Iraq? 600,000 Iraqi civilians killed, about the same number of Iraqi children homeless; over 4,000 Americans killed with 30,000 wounded, maimed, mentally impaired. A stronger Iran, more intelligent, and highly trained terrorists with more sophisticated weaponry. Staggering cost of war of $3,000,000,000 dollars and another $3,000,000,000 in medical costs for vets yet to come; Oh, and an increased hostility to Americans around the world. Wow!  What a minus -zero accomplishment that is.

Guess we have to look at China for any good news. Washington has been tracking the Chinese Government’s stunning example of solar cooking on a large-scale. China funds parabolic sun cookers and uses carbon credit trading to encourage investors to become involved. This is not small-scale at the village level. It is a valuable resource that can significantly reduce global carbon emissions because it reduces the use of coal cookers and deforestation. It cuts fuel use by 30 to 50 per cent. Pretty nifty.
Everyone I introduce to solar cooking is awed by its ease of use. You can substitute one of the bubbly, fake aluminum windshield screens as a cooker. They work, but aren’t stable if it is windy. And, we take our fresh water for granted. Much of the world needs to pasteurize water before drinking it. Voila! The solar pasteurization kit.

The sun, it keeps on shining.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


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I’ve learned a lot about corned beef since I prepared mine Jewish style on Sunday. I always thought corned beef was simply brined brisket, and I was sort of right. The salt is crystals not brine. Anyway, I soaked mine overnight and drained away the water before boiling it with a large onion and four bay leaves. It was less salty and I think I’ll do that from now on.
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I scraped away that huge covering of fat, studded it with cloves, added pepper, (not in the recipe, but it worked out fine.) 002 (Copy)

I slathered it with dijon  mustard, surrounded it with peaches and juice and baked it for about an hour and 40 minutes. It didn’t get as tender as the fresh brisket does. It retains a firmer texture, probably because of the salt.
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I cooked the potatoes, carrots and cabbage in the broth.
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I cut my cabbage so a part of the core holds them into a wedge shape and put them in during the last 10 to 12 minutes of cooking. Cabbage loses its flavor when overcooked. It tastes great just tender and slathered in mustard. I’d have to say, the peach and clove flavors gave it a unique taste, but it still tasted like corned beef. Everyone liked it and the Rummikub game we played until late was fun. We chose a white wine with it. I think maybe our little dinner gathering was fun but not nearly as exciting as the Undie Run the people of Seattle love along with their Nudestock.  Still gives me a chuckle to think of it.

I said I learned a lot about corned beef because the Irish in Ireland don’t eat it. They raised pork and couldn’t afford beef. The English sent cattle to be raised in Ireland. The Irish sold it back to them preserved in salt- no refrigeration in those days- to outfit ships from both England and France. The Irish had access to cheap crystal salt and  had a huge profitable business for many years. Then when England passed laws against land inheritance and broke up families and wealth, the Irish had only the potato as their mainstay with a bit of salt back bacon. There are still more Irish in other countries than Ireland.

In the U.S. the Irish borrowed the brisket, a tough, cheap cut of meat, from the Jews and again became masters of “corned” beef.  Cooked with the “Irish” potato and cabbage about the cheapest vegetables you could buy. Survivors.
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(Next year I think I’ll  organize an undie run for the parade.)  We’re kind of boring.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Three Peta activists shed most of their clothing and donned bright green paint to celebrate St. Patricks’ Day and get their message out at the same time: “Meat’s Not Green”. They passed out leaflets about eating a vegan diet.  Abandon meat, eggs and dairy products and go vegan.  The meat industry is a polluter that also gobbles up natural resources. This information and the pictures come from Josh Trujillo’s Seattle blog.
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The Peta ladies are tastefully covered for most sensibilities. But, we are a culture that shuns the naked body and public nudity as though there is something wrong with the natural human body uncovered. But, Seattle also hosts Nudestock, you know, like Woodstock?  Only it is a nude fest. People disrobe on street corners, go to work on public transit sans clothing, enjoy a parade and nudity in general.
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There’s just something fun about getting nude and enjoying the breeze, so  they say. And the watchers don’t seem to mind one bit.
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Peta activists were present at Nudestock along the parade route too. This time protesting the use of animal skins. bike (Copy)

Looks like a fun crazy day whether you participate or observe.  Everyone smiles, no one is being ugly or in your face. I like it! And, the top o’ the mornin’ ta yuh whether yee be green or orange.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


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Today is St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated in Murphys yesterday. Since my mail is by the pound, I read a notice the parade would be on Sunday. I stumbled onto the corrected date in a later notice. Went late, missed the parade, had a good beer, enjoyed the green hair, the bands, and best of all, I got a ghost story.
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Not everyone wears green hair, of course, but everyone has fun. I know this guy is bald, so he enjoyed his hair and later let everyone try it on.
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Others take their costumes seriously, as this young man very authentically dressed.
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At 3:30 in the afternoon, the pony rides were starting to pack up and leave.
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The main band stand on the street was  still pumping out tunes.
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There were a lot of places to sit, and Jan and I enjoyed a huge pretzel at Cactus Jacks. I had my first dark beer since getting home. The woman on the right is holding the tallest green margarita I’ve ever seen. They were all over town.
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Jack’s rock band was so loud and the dance floor so crowded, we sat outside and still had to shout at each other to be heard.
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Jan doesn’t drink but a sip of wine now and then. She is Italian so I had to take her picture by this barrel.  Every time I come home, there is a new tasting room in Murphys.
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Newsome-Harlow’s courtyard had a good band.
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Their courtyard is a pleasant place to sip and chat. The fire was going in the pits, even though the weather was perfect.
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Jan found a dragonfly to put in her pond.
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I found some cute bird houses, but didn’t buy. I liked the idea of a waterproof roof.
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We got to the end of the street, Tom Scheller, the owner of the IDEA store, pointed out some fun stuff he added to his building, which is the old International Order of Oddfellows building from the Gold Rush days. A woman standing nearby said, Have you heard about the ghost?”  Me:  “What ghost?”
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Tom was getting his stuff moved back inside, ready to close up for the day. Tom and I were in Murphys Merchants Association together many years ago. He bought the building 37 years ago and I’ve been in Murphys 35 years. I regard Tom as a down-to-earth credible guy. Hey, Tom?
This is the story he told me. “I’ve always heard creakings and what sounded like footsteps in this old building,  mostly when I went upstairs. He took Jan and I to his side door where the stairs can be reached from the outside, and a second door leads to his main display downstairs. “I had just locked my outside door. The door to my showroom was closed. I started up the stairs and I heard heavy footsteps coming downstairs. I backed off and decided to turn around when a whoosh of cold air hit me, the footsteps passed me and I heard a click of my  showroom door as though something passed through it. I’ve had people get spooked when visiting the upstairs showroom over the years, they described it as a feeling of someone watching them. I’ve always ignored it. But, we’ve had some activity downstairs too.  I or my employees have been sitting behind the counter, working on the computer or whatever, and papers will be picked up off the top of a file cabinet and dropped to the floor. Things have moved off the shelf and been dropped on the floor. We always joked about a ghost. We have a non-smoking environment here, but I’ll open up some mornings and find a wisp of cigarette smoke hanging in the far left corner of my shop. Then one day, a physic, who was touring with some people, looked up and said, you have a ghost, his name is Joe, he is sitting right there. She pointed to where I see the smoke periodically. I was still a bit skeptical but one day, I was doing some remodeling upstairs and I opened up the floor boards and found three bricks, one imprinted with the name Joe. I’m convinced now that I have a ghost.” (Me too.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Isn’t America wonderful? We have such a polyglot of cultures we can be Irish and cook Jewish on St. Patrick’s Day. Well, what the heck. Good food belongs to everyone. I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but I can tell you it is good.

1 brisket, as large as you can find with the bone in, (not corned.)
Boil two hours covered with 4-5 bay leaves and a large onion. Use a stainless steel pan and add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the water. Once cooked, drain and move to a baking pan. Stud with whole cloves and slather with Dijon mustard mixed with 2 tspns dk brown sugar. Add a can of peaches, spread juice and peaches around the base of the brisket and bake it until it is tender enough to cut with a fork. (About an hour.)

I’m going to try making it this year with the brisket already corned and see how it turns out. Mainly because my housemate, who has been invited to a friends for St. Patricks, feels cheated because she doesn’t get any leftovers for sandwiches. She bought me a brisket with red new potatoes and carrots, and cabbage, and said, “...there better be enough leftovers for a sandwich for me!”
Tomorrow, I’ll cover the St. Patricks Day festivities in town, but, I still haven’t solved my picture problem. Maybe, I’ll have better luck today. If not, I’m going to begin blogging old photos. Shoot, I have thousands of them.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Wouldn’t it be nice if one could travel from the Motor Home to the house and get on my “resident” computer and have it work the way it did when I left it?  No such luck, of course. After two days of struggle, I still cannot get my photos to load the way they normally do, so I’ve figured out a way around it.  I can sympathize with the demented guy in a cartoon who takes a hammer to his television or computer. Frustrating.


I like driving my Prius and just had a new battery pack installed. But after reading Steve Westley’s report, I’m thinking I should have bought a Tesla. Steve is a dot-com millionaire with a community service bent.  He volunteers his service on the  state’s Energy Advisory Board.  I met him twice and I’m very impressed with his intelligence, and ideas. Anyway, you might want to read his take on the new Tesla being manufactured right here in nearby Fremont, CA. at the old G.M Plant.

I have never been a big “car guy” and have been driving the same car for 12 years. However, I just got my new Tesla Model S last weekend, and it feels like driving something from the future. The all-electric Model S is built in Fremont, CA at the old NUMMI auto factory that Tesla reopened after it was closed by Toyota and General Motors. The car is faster than almost any other production car (0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds) and gets the EPA equivalent of 95 miles per gallon. It also costs 75% less to operate than a gas-powered car. That’s why Motor Trend chose Tesla as Car of The Year. The Model S is a great example of Silicon Valley innovation and American manufacturing ingenuity. If you also have solar panels on the roof of your home, you may never pay a cent for electricity or gas again.

Who knows, I may buy one yet. And then, there is building design. I’ve designed two houses and live in one still. I never thought I’d be designing another one, but since my mobile flooded in Oregon, that is a very real possibility and occupies a good bit of my thought these days. Look at the Energy Board’s report on digitizing homes. Steve chaired the Subcommittee on Building Energy Efficiency. The Committee’s report follows:

Buildings use 40% of the nation’s energy – more than the transportation or industrial sectors. The National Academy of Sciences points out that “full deployment of cost-effective energy efficiency technologies in buildings alone could eliminate the need to construct any new electricity-generating plants in the United States” until 2030. In November, our subcommittee released a report analyzing the tremendous potential for cost savings, available technologies, and Department of Energy programs and initiatives related to building energy efficiency. The report outlines what the U.S. needs to do is to lead this revolution. We have digitized music and cameras; it is time to digitize buildings.

The challenge is before me and I’m hoping the eventual economy of the building might mitigate the extra cost of using these features.  When I find out what they are, I’ll let you know. I just hope they have a self-cleaning garage and a self repairing computer.  (The report was put out Nov. 2012.) Should be perfected by now, doncha think?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Jim dropped me off at Baton Rouge Airport, on Tuesday, March 12th. It is a very small, neat little airport, easy to navigate.
My seat mate was a darling baby girl, only five months old.
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There is nothing like a cute baby to get people acquainted. Her mom’s girl friend makes bows to match every special outfit she has. Whatta charmer.
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The plane was the kind I like, on the small side, with a single seat on the left, and doubles on the right. The first leg from Baton Rouge to Houston was 52 minutes and pleasant.
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Out the plane window, I could see the muddy river and all that swamp land of Louisiana I was  leaving behind.
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The change of planes at Houston, where much remodeling is going on was brutal. A looong hike, two escalators…

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…a tram ride. And, then, another long walk.
On board wasn’t pleasant either. I’ve flown United Airlines before and this is the first time I’ve had to suffer two very rude stews.  I bought a sandwich and the dressing spurted out of a difficult to manage plastic packaging across the tray holding a hot cup of coffee and a glass of water, and up my shirt to my neck. When I asked a stew if she could bring me some napkins, she told me, “It won’t do any good anyway it will just smear it”, and she walked away. The woman across the aisle from me gave me her napkin that I dunked in my water-glass to clean up. The stew than came back with some paper towels a bit later. I didn’t let it ruin my trip.   I reached Sacramento, went to dinner with my daughter’s family and drove to Murphys this morning, about 91miles.
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My housemate throws any obvious junk mail away, but when I left, I was still getting bills from the accident  I knew they would be waiting for me when I returned. It was a long separation from my partner and my chosen lifestyle.  I will tackle the mail tomorrow.  I will  sleep tonight with pleasant dreams. I didn’t just look. I went into the rice fields, and bayous, I felt the mud and the water;  I threw beads and savored the rain; I chased birds and exalted in their beauty. I tasted new foods, and spices; I met interesting, wonderful people and learned new things. There are so many wonders out there if you move out of your comfortable rut and let yourself fly.