One day last week, we had to make a trip to the VA Clinic so George could provide a urine sample. It’s a new rule at the VA and will be a regular twice a year as long as he is taking narcotics, due to some (a few?) of those receiving opiates for pain control selling their meds. I wonder how much of that is due to the displaced, jobless, homeless situation of far too many veterans?

~~~

Weather has been mostly HOT … sweaty scalp dripping into my eyes. Iced drinks, fans, and cross drafts keep me functioning.Hairdo

One day I was so wiped by the heat I didn’t have the oomph to put up my hair off my neck so George did it for me. He had never before offered to do anything with my hair.

 

~~~

I am hoping the coming weekend isn’t a disaster. It is the Mt Shasta 4th walk/run for which the radio club does the usual “health and welfare” thing. Temperatures are due to be over 100°. I will wear white and a straw hat, keep a bottle (or two) of water in hand, stay in any shade available as much as possible, and hope things aren’t as hot as they are predicting.

~~~

We were finally able to meet with a neurologist to discuss George’s back. Seems his case is textbook for folks our age … initial injury followed by no discomfort for several days followed by SEVERE pain followed by medication and tincture of time followed by optimal healing followed by continued caution and a return to as near normal as possible.

As has been said … getting old ain’t for sissies.Convenience

However, there are always things at which to smile. As we started up the KBar hill on the way home, this is what we saw. No idea who or why … but no one can say Hammond Ranch doesn’t provide conveniences.

~~~

My backyard living space is blessed. There is a Bufo living in and near the pond.

Bufo Two evenings ago I watched him take out a wasp. He is a valuable neighbor.

~~~

SCOTUS … interesting group … some members really understanding and using the law, others interested in bending the law to support individual opinions. Thomas, who is not a criminal because of a previous “marriage” decision, voting against the same privilege for others. Scalia throwing a tantrum and trying to ridicule. Roberts waffling in re states’ rights. Alito mixing the (Christian?) requirement for procreation with blame for unwed mothers.

In spite of some of the Justices (interesting title), sometimes they get it right.

A young niece, who has a three-year-old, said it quite well when she said she hopes that someday, when he is grown, her son will wonder why there was all the fuss over something so basic.

Individual choice is the key. I decide for me. You decide for you.

We may suggest and show by example, but not demand.

Oh well …

Lock me up for a loony?

~~~

When I go to the backdoor and look up, here’s what I see …

Back Door

and I may have shared this before. It is the view from our hydro intake.  I think it is worth sharing again.

From the Hydro Intake

~~~

This year the season of the flying spiders has come early. Usually it is August before the babies take off at the end of a silken thread to fly as far as possible. There was a time when small children and I would lie on our backs at the edge of a tree cluster to watch the spider kites sparkle in the light.

Memories of those adventures with the children are precious, and I still enjoy the sight.

~~~Blossoms

       The catalpa and the campion and the mock orange are in bloom. Lovely …

Drying Herbs

and herbs are drying … comfrey, yarrow, all heal, dream wort, mullein, fever few, chamomile, sage, oregano, mint … with thyme, lavender, St John’s wort, other mints, and some additional others left to go.

~~~

And finally for this week, here’s an abridged statement from a friend (abridgement not meant to demean his belief system, but to include all others) …

 

[Each] morning, as I wake, I take a moment to say Good Morning, Thank You. I know some may think me nuts, that’s ok. I have found … Love [is] stronger in my life today more than ever. I know I will be Happy if I allow my self to accept it. I have found Happiness is simply a by product of doing the next right thing in pursuit of worthwhile goals. I hope you will come along for the ride, I will do my best to make it fun and interesting. I hope you enjoy and have an adventurous life, step out on that limb, take a chance, know [the Creator] will not fail thee.

 

Thank you, Tony.

Bless us all !

 

             … so, ’til next week …

 

 

 

 

The shooting in South Carolina last week has left me with a slew of thoughts. Why isn’t the media calling the shooter what he is … a terrorist. Had he been radicalized, left the US to go to the Middle East, and killed people there would be no discussion. But because he was radicalized, stayed in the US, and killed people there are differences of opinion.

Why are middle eastern fanatics and their propaganda berated, bemoaned and labeled “EVIL” while white supremists and their propaganda are cited as mentally ill and given a pass?

Why does our reaction to a pseudo-Islamic supremist differ from our reaction to a white supremist?

We consider our indignation in re middle east religious victims to be righteous and any response, no matter how immoral, to be appropriate. Why don’t we defend victims of racial hatred in the same manner? Weren’t those folks in the AME Church “Christians”?

What are we teaching our youth? Not reading, writing, and arithmetic. Not ethics. Not tolerance. Not history. Not any version of what Christians call the “Golden Rule”. Not “WE the people”.

To quote Jon Stewart … Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them, who wanted to start some kind of civil war. The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina, and the roads are named for Confederate generals, and the white guy’s the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him.

Maybe my Nana was more prescient that any of us thought … the Apocalypse IS closer than anticipated.

In addition, more and more headlines are stating we are in the epoch of the 6th extinction.

If I had tears, I’d weep for our world … but some anguish is too deep for tears.

~~~

But back to “normal” …

 

Friday evening we watched this year’s Met production of “The Merry Widow” by Lehar. Renee Fleming sang the lead, and the second female role was sung by a Broadway star. The move to recognize some “lighter” musicals as opera, rather than something less, has given listeners new treasures. Opera companies across the country have recently done “Carousel”, “Oklahoma”, “Showboat”, and (of course) “Porgy and Bess” in addition to “… Widow”. One really nice thing … they’re sung in English.

This production of “… Widow” was quite a bit different from the “light” opera productions of the past. The voices were very good (Renee was Renee … ’nuff said), but adding Broadway choreography was really something.

Watch it if you get a chance.

~~~

Last saturday was the first of this year’s amateur radio commitments … the Castle Crags Bicycle Event. The weather was a bit warm to be outdoors in the sun, but not too.

The shirts this year say “Change your altitude”.

Mumbo Station

 

I did my regular station at the highest point on the ride, Mumbo which is over 6,000′ and is on the Pacific Crest Trail (those white spots are footprints showing where the trail crosses the road).

 

Each year, the rest stops compete to see which stop can be the most entertaining.Biker BroadThis year I worked with a clutch of biker broads (they are too old to be “babes”).

I was in my regular clothes. It was decided that next year I will be in costume as well. Who knows what the theme will be?

The best part (visually) of the ride is past our site on the way down to RamsHorn. That’s the section of the ride behind Castle Crags.

But Mumbo has an interesting view of the Mountain … sort of peek-a-boo (can you see the Mountain?).Mumbo View

Mountain Azalea

 

 

The mountain azaleas are in bloom,

 

 

 

and I found a nest of Shasta Daisies.Shasta Lily

 

 

 

Due to his back, George switched from a regular station assignment to riding shotgun in one of the SAG wagons. The driver was a close friend who used to be the local WaterMaster. Whenever she was up in our area on assignment, Michelle would drop in for a drink of water or iced tea.

It was a good day. Dinner was provided by the best Mexican restaurant in town … Casa Ramos. They served “macho” burritos which really were mucho. We got a free beer as well …Beer Bracelet

but we had to be “carded” and wear a green bracelet to prove to any random inspectors that we really are old enough to drink a beer.

 

Only drawback to the day … we missed “Tannhauser” on the morning opera. Oh well …

~~~

Last sunday was Litha, Summer Solstice. The sun has begun its trip south. Days will be getting shorter. I will be able to go out to settle the ladies for the night before 2100.

Using John’s panorama, I added arrows for this example of the sun’s yearly dawn range at this latitude.Sunrises

~~~

On sunday, Masterpiece on PBS started a new series … “Poldark”.

The setting was wonderful … the Cornwall tin coast.

I follow a photographer on the net who is a photographer of the Cornwall coast. He lives in Pool and walks the footpaths along the south and west coasts, so some of the vistas in “Poldark” were familiar, including the abandoned tin mine shaft.

The first episode reminded me of a Harlequin novel set in the late 18th century. Costume romance.

The Hollywood Reporter agreed, calling it “… trash done exceedingly well.”  Maybe it will improve.

~~~

TurbineHydro power is dropping off. The problem is lack of water coming down off Mt Eddy. George went out (after a nagging lecture in re no twisting, lifting, etc.) to see if anything could be done.

Fortunately he began several years ago to augment with solar power.

 

~~~

On one walk out toward Michael’s Grove,Bear GrassMichael's Grove

 

 

I discovered Bear Grass …

and wild garlic.

Beauty all around.

 

 

 

So … ’til next week …

 

 

 

 

Weather cooled a bit … not a lot, just a bit. Enough to close the windows at night. Then got hot again.  … fifteen to twenty degrees above average for this time of the year. Open the windows and throw off the covers.

17 June 2015 Here is this morning’s view from the chicken yard Lady

 

where the ladies are doing their job of cleaning and fertilizing.

Seed Cones

 

It seems to be a good year for seed cones …

 

Yarrow

 

and the herb harvest continues.

The yarrow is ready.

 

~~~

One of the local hardware stores held a 20% off EVERYTHING sale last friday. I asked if they were moving or going out of business and was told no, just wanted to clear the shelves. George was able to get a Craftsman weed whacker for less than $50. I got some garden stuff.

With proof of a purchase, you got a free sausage on a bun and a cold drink. Not exactly a free lunch, but close.

~~~

And while we were in Yreka, we went by the DMV and got a Handicapped Parking thingee for the car. I usually park away from the store for the walking exercise, but with George’s back, we need to park as close as possible. We’re all set now.

The DMV clerk asked if we wanted a new Handicapped license plate as well. We haven’t yet decided. I sort of like our current plate …          2 BeDRoom …

George is considering switching to his radio call … AB6UE … so he might do that and get it with the Handicapped designation.

We shall see …

~~~

The final planning meeting for the Castle Crags Bicycle Event next saturday was last monday. George is in charge of the radio club’s participation, so I dropped him off at the Museum (they were using the lecture section of the building for the meeting) and then went into town to do the week’s shopping. When I got back to the Museum, I just sat in the car, waiting. The sky was lovely. And I was under a tree.

Leaves and Clouds Would have been as good as an art gallery had there been more than one view.

~~~

We made a trip to Grants Pass in Oregon yesterday to replace four of the power system batteries. It is a nice drive along the Rogue River.

We were back in Yreka by noon and had hamburgers at a place called “The Gold Rush” which belongs to a family member (daughter, if I remember correctly) of a genealogist I met on line.

It is an interesting place in an old service station. The eating area is in the refurbished service bays, and the kitchen is in the office space. The decor is 50s with pictures of James Dean, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe all over the walls. Even the curtains were Monroe. Only poster not of one of those three was Glinda asking if I was a good witch or a bad witch (not 50s, but close enough I guess).

No fast food. Burgers etc. are cooked to order. And you bus your own table when you’re done.

Food was good. Noise level was too high. And not a juke box or one of those penny fortune telling machines anywhere. Sigh …

~~~

When he was here last week, John took a panorama at sunset. It is looking from southwest of the house down High Meadow Road.

Down the road The house and barn are in the trees on the right of the road.

~~~

Today we go out to check the hydro system and make sure it is clear. This is the time of year when summer people show up and spend time wading in the creek which stirs up leaves etc. No big deal. Just a time consumer.

And tonight is the radio club meeting.

~~~

 

Short post this week. Life is much the same ole same ole.

 

“Be grateful, give thanks for what you have received. In an economy which urges us to always want more, the practice of gratitude is truly a radical act.”

 

 

So … ’til next week …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saw the retinologist last thursday for another shot in George’s eye.

As we were driving down Barnett Road (one of the main arteries in south Medford) toward the retinologist’s office, there was a gap of about two or three car lengths between me and the car in front of me when suddenly a single wild turkey hen stepped casually off the sidewalk to my right and strolled out into the road. Of course I stopped, as did all the cars behind me (without a single rear-ender). She took her time, strolling leisurely, looking around, checking out all there was to see during that busy time of the morning (it was about 0930 and Barnett Road leads to the Asante Medical Complex … one of the largest in Oregon). We sat there until the turkey crossed the center lane. As we started moving again, we were laughing. Cars going in the opposite direction were backed up the equivalent of two city blocks … all for one wild turkey hen seemingly just out for a morning stroll.

~~~

Weather had been warm for several days. New things are blooming … rhododendrons,Iris more iris, chamomile, California poppies, “real” geraniums, meadow sweet, Shasta daisies, peonies, and yarrow.

And I started the herb harvest. There is now comfrey, mint, wort, and chamomile hanging to dry. Plus a jar of comfrey oil.

 

The end of last week, weather turned HOT with still air. I remember days in western New York state when the temperature was 95° and the humidity was 98%. Moving was like swimming.

For the last couple of days my scalp has been sweating. I’ve avoided looking at the humidity gauge.

We’ve had light rain showers night and morning on and off. Not really enough to measure … but welcome.

Tuesday evening (while watching Hitchcock’s “Spellbound”), we had lightning with thunder right overhead and a short downpour. These bursts cause clogging of the hydro intakes so off we went this morning to clean the screens.

There were some lightning caused fires, but they were north … up near the Oregon border. Excitement down here was a 26-year-old male with chest and belly pains at one of the local eateries.

~~~

Friday morning I saw movement in the backyard. We’re used to deer back there, so it was no big deal … until I really looked …Bear

 

 

Then  George went out to feed the ladies …Coop

 

 

 

Repairs have been made. The electric deterrent wires were put in place and connected. Conversations in re a new winter chicken house (or resheathing the old one in aluminum) have begun.

~~~

It has been a busy few days. John was here for 2 full days. He brought goodies with him … a flat of luscious strawberries and some fresh blueberries. Result? Jam and muffins.

While he was here, he helped with chores to which George can’t yet return and for which I am not physically capable. We moved chickens and he triumphed over the waist high meadow grasses in the backyard in spite of the fact that our equipment is old, eccentric, and just plain strange.

The combination of fresh strawberries and freshly mown grass sent my nose into spasm of ecstasy.

John and I spent an afternoon at the radio shack in town (where there is access to unlimited internet use) and now my computer is like brand new with all the latest updates and none of the infections and other crap (thanks mainly to CCleaner).

Fawn

 

 

 

 

While out on walks, John’s eye caught some scenes …8 June 2015Wood

 

The one that really got me was such a simple, everyday sight … but he saw it in a singular way. When I first saw it my thought was “ART!”. It cried out to be enlarged and framed and hung in some high priced decorator’s studio where it would be seen and sent to the walls of a House Beautiful. Even possibly, before that, entered in some competition where someone else will have the reaction I had.

~~~

We have  new ISP as of monday afternoon. Now for the learning time. Because of different use rules, we will need to learn new time frames.

One side effect of the new server is that it uses a different satellite, so the catalpa will have to be topped soon. And so it goes.

 

So … ’til next week …

 

 

 

 

 

George’s back situation is in limbo. Government bureaucracy you know.

Here’s a letter I sent to both California Senators, our Representative, the head of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and the White House.

“I am writing to request your attention to a problem with a Veterans’ Administration ruling which is adversely impacting my husband and me. I know we are not the only ones being so affected. The rule needs to be changed.

“My husband is George S. Dibelka, a United States Navy veteran of World War II and Korea. We are both in our late 80s. We live on a small farm three miles off paved road in the mountains of southern Siskiyou County, California. We have a few animals who need care and so one of us needs to be at home every day. We have been together more than 65 years and, at this stage in our lives, we need to be together.

“He was recently diagnosed with severe (but, according to a physician, not yet critical) lower back problems including a compression fracture, an anterior dislocation, and impinging pressure on his spinal cord which limit his normal activity and require he sleep in a lounge chair. Following an MRI, it was advised he see a neurosurgeon for a consultation and possible surgery to correct the problem.

“His primary care is through the rural VA clinic in Yreka, California approximately 38 miles to the north. There is a larger clinic in Redding  approximately 80 miles to the south where he has been seen for x-rays. The nearest large, comprehensive VA facility is in Sacramento, approximately 400 miles to the south.

“A request, under the “Choice” program, was filed asking he be referred to a neurosurgeon in Medford, Oregon for the requested consultation. Medford is 80 miles up I-5 to the north. This request was refused by someone at Travis Air Force Base near San Francisco. Instead of a consultation with a neurosurgeon, we were told to see someone in Sacramento for pain control and physical therapy.

“The reason given for this refusal was that we live within 40 miles of a care facility and therefore don’t qualify for the “Choice” option. It is true we are less than 40 miles from the nearest clinic, BUT the care he needs, if provided through the VA, is 400 miles away. Were he allowed to see the closer provider, care would be only 80 miles away.

That 320 miles makes a BIG difference in our lives. If he is required to be in Sacramento for physical therapy it would be necessary to find someone to look after the animals while we were away and for us to rent a motel room in which to stay during his therapy. Those costs, plus the cost of gasoline for the trip(s) to and from Sacramento, would put a great strain on our finances since we live on a bit more than $1,500 a month.

“Therefore, I have two requests …

“Primarily, I request that you do what you can to get the decision that requires we travel to Sacramento, rather than to Medford, for the care he needs be rescinded and we be allowed to see the nearer specialist for the treatment which will return him to functioning. This is important to us.

“My second request is that you do all you are able to see that the flawed rule in re where a veteran can receive treatment be rewritten so decisions are based on the distance to the required care rather than to the nearest VA facility, regardless of its size and capabilities. This is potentially important to thousands of veterans and their families.

“I would like to note that all the personnel in our local facility are patient advocates, caring and helpful. It is only when we have to access beyond them, to the level of bureaucracy which has no contact with people, dealing only with paper, that the system breaks down.

“Thank you for your attention to this problem.”

~~~

Had he lived, Michael would have turned 51 last thursday. I have trouble getting my thoughts around that because he will never be more than 33.

I recently came across a quote by Roy Orbisons’s son … “No matter how long a loved one is with you, it is never long enough.”

~~~

Last week I girded up my loins (are you smiling?) and sent off two chapters in my book to a possible publisher. Scary !!!

They let me know they received my submission. Now to wait for their opinion. Wish me luck.

If you’d like to read a chapter and offer a critique, let me know.

~~~

Yellow dust is all over everything. It’s the time of year when the pine trees (and some cedars) declare their sexuality. This current mess bodes well for reforestation. However, it does make it necessary to clean off the windshield when we want to drive any place and the upper solarium windows were a mess until the monday rain …Rain Scum

 

which left puddles edged with the residue.

 

 

Oh well …

~~~

I seem to have developed a regular reader in India. She or he (I think it’s a he because there were references to “mates”) has written several times.

It is sort of mind-blowing that I have a reader that far away. But then I guess that’s what the internet does.

Thank You and Welcome all … I do read the messages.

~~~

This year I enjoyed the spread of the shooting stars across the meadow (they are browning off now), but neglected to take out the camera. If you can’t recall what they looked like, check out last year’s blog (about this time of year), or the year before. I know I’ve posted pictures.

They are such a blaze of colour.

~~~

I’ve left off knitting the vest I started with Carol’s fiber and switched to some shades of blue yarn I spun a year or so ago.Knitting

The new vest is a simple pattern based on stockinette with only two rows out of every ten requiring attention. The grey and soft teal vest has a pattern I have to watch every single row.

 

And since we are finishing off season 4 of “Fringe”, I was messing up too often. I’ll get back to it in time for colder weather.

~~~

Earlier last week, I had been to the local meat market where I get grass fed beef and stocked up. So last friday I made potato salad and served big, juicy hamburgers. Just before dinner I learned it was International Hamburger Day.

How’s that for prescience?

~~~

There have been a couple of news reports lately that got me to thinking.

The first was about a homeless man who robbed a bank using his latest resume on which to write the note demanding money, put about $1,000 in a paper bag, walked across the street, sat down on a bench and waited for the police to come get him. He said he’s been trying to support himself but had been unable to find work and decided jail would at least provide bed and board.

The second was about a young man who broke into a convenience store, stole snack food and left a trail of food to where he sat a few hundred feet away eating the nachos.

These reports led me back to Les Miz where the protagonist stole bread because his children were hungry.

In the meantime, this country’s 1% continues to collect and squirrel away more money than they can possibly spend in several lifetimes.

Something is drastically wrong with this picture.

In France in the late 18th century, the similar situation led to the French Revolution.

~~~

3 June 2015

Everything is super green …

 

So … ’til next week …

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            27 May 2015                                                      This morning …

~~~

Our next big adventure will be back surgery for George. Fortunately, the bills will go to the VA.

If I haven’t said anything about it in the past, I am now telling everyone the VA service here in Siskiyou County is well run … top notch. With the exception of one little snip of a receptionist (who thinks she is a Drill Sergeant assigned to enforce rules … “Don’t come to the window. Stand back with your feet on the waiting pad. I’ll call you when I’m ready.”), the people involved are polite, understanding, and helpful. George has said he is being well paid for his service time.

~~~

As everyone in the US knows, California is having water troubles (except Cold Comfort Farm … for now). In our immediate area, there is a fight going on over commercial water bottling. Those in favor cite jobs (a favorite tweaking tactic in depressed areas). Those against point out it costs 50% more water to bottle than the salable product delivers, jobs would be few and low wage, costs to the environment would be high (plastics, transportation damage to infrastructure using fossil fuels, aquifer depletion, neighborhood degradation …) and that some of the agreements under which the proposed facilities plan to operate are outdated and have not been renegotiated.

We are fairly safe here on Cold Comfort since there are only three wells above us (one of which is part-timers) and we live quite a way off the main roads. Still, we may have to take a position soon. The question may show up on a County ballot before too long.

I wish the fracking situation in California would show up on a ballot as well.

~~~

Sometime ago, after I took over as Presiding Officer of the amateur radio club, following each meeting I began sending out very short notes to those who weren’t there. Notes like “Hope all is well. I missed you.” That was all.

The returns have been phenomenal. Folks have been showing up more regularly, and if they can’t be there I often get explanatory notes. As a result I know about cancer treatments, Emergency Department trips, cardiac and respiratory setbacks, family visits, work related life changes, births, deaths, weddings, surgeries, vacation plans, etc. And most of the responses include “Thanks for asking.”

Proof that simple things can make people feel valued.

It makes me feel good as well.    Win – Win.

~~~

Last sunday … but I should start this story more than 50 years ago.

In 1959 George’s work took him to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His gig was set to last more than 6 months. Rather than have him flying back and forth to be with John and me in Pomona, we decided to pack up the family and spend those 6 months back there.

George was born and raised in Chicago and there were still Dibelkas living in the area at that time (there are still two there but one is no longer a Dibelka). So, of course, we visited. It was during that time I met Virginia Dibelka, George’s uncle’s wife. She was a special lady and we hit it off right away. We laughed about being the only non-blood Dibelkas around.

That was when she gave me a couple of recipes … one for blueberry muffins and the other for what she called “Sunshine” cake, a lemon sponge cake.

I’ve blogged about that cake before. It became a regular in my winter-spring menus.

Last sunday I baked one of Aunt Virginia’s Sunshine cakes. We have been having days of rain and a lemon cake just sounded good.

Cake

 

I have no idea what I did differently than I’ve been doing for over 50 years, but when I turned the cake out of the tube pan …

Oh well …

 

~~~

There have recently been several articles on NPR about teachers. I feel it is about time we started paying attention to the people who teach our children (and pay a livable salary to the good ones).

In the past I have written about my teacher, Faris Edgar. He was a real teacher.

Once past elementary school, and with the exception of subjects like mathematics, a REAL teacher does not provide “truth” or “facts” to be memorized, but shows you the way to find answers.

Henry Adams said  “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Thank you again, Mr. Edgar.

~~~

Our computer problem is resolving … just doing so much too slowly. It has been over a week since I was on Facebook. I did get a chance to check up last weekend, but I still can’t go on every day as I used to do. I miss it. I enjoy the contacts and keeping up with friends. Oh well … soon.

~~~

We continued to have daily rain until saturday . Our total for the month (so far) has been 3.68″. Local discussions seem to center around a future of warm, wet summers and cold, dry winters.

For now, all the native growth is lush and green and wet. I still can’t do much in the garden or backyard.Bronze Iris

Meanwhile, I continue enjoying the lilac bush at the front door and all the iris.

And the catalpa is finally showing signs of leafing out. Catalpa blossoms are spectacular.

~~~

There was a report friday evening on the problem of poverty and hunger among today’s senior citizens due mainly (according to the report) to the recent “Recession”. There was report of a couple in Florida, who are living in a plush condo, who have nothing to eat. At one point they had only coffee and a single slice of toast … or so the report said.

It made me think how blessed we are. We don’t live in a plush condo but we aren’t bogged down with mortgage payments and power bills and television service bills and all the baggage that used to be called keeping-up-with-the-Joneses.

We own our land and house. We make our power (we haven’t paid a power bill since September of 1978). We watch three free television channels (CBS, NBC, and PBS). We eat very well. And we live in a beautiful, soul-nourishing place.

We are living comfortably (if not lavishly) on about $1,500 a month. That is indeed being blessed.

~~~

And a thought along those lines …

 

TODAY IS THE OLDEST I’VE EVER BEEN, YET THE YOUNGEST I’LL EVER BE, SO I WILL ENJOY EACH DAY.

Eighty-five looks good on me.

 

 

So ’til next week …

 

 

 

 

 

 

I turned 85 last friday.

I’m the oldest Tyler/Hall left in my generation. There is only one other and she turned 83 last January.

When we talked last week she was telling me she went in for her annual mammogram (her mother died of cancer) and the x-ray tech said “Don’t breathe” as she went behind the shield to push the button. Dottie laughed and said she told the tech to never say that to an 83-year-old.

We’re a pair of sassy old ladies.

~~~

John and his partner were here from friday afternoon until monday morning.

Only one drawback. Weather was not conducive to getting anything done. We had gloom (although I mostly like the low clouds when we have them) and wet. 

Original reason for the visit was the garden. Everything was too wet to accomplish anything outdoors. John will be back in two or three weeks and we’ll tackle it full on. The decision was to limit planting to potatoes, corn, and tomatoes this year.

I’ve been eating asparagus and we’ve had two batches of rhubarb, but then those are perennials and so require little care.

The other result of the visit was a new lounge chair for George. The one he had been using was three generations old and much worse for wear. He now has a good one which reclines nicely with a good leg support.

The Chair

The old one went into the fire pit with blessings and thanks.

~~~

In spite of bureaucracy, we were able to get George in at a local facility for the required MRI yesterday. For normal stuff, we go to the clinic in Yreka.

The VA has a new program under which if you would have to travel further than 40 miles to get care, you can choose to have local care and, after the required paper work (after all, the VA is a bureaucracy), the VA will pay. The nearest VA would have been in Sacramento so we qualified.

We won’t know the results for a few days.

~~~

Last week George and I were unexpectedly exposed to a series of films built around a character named Billy Jack. They were filmed in the early 70s and are a long way from Hollywood polish … but full of truth. They have so much to say which is relevant today. I wish they were required viewing, especially for young people.

The more things change, the more they stay the same …

~~~

We have been having trouble with our ISP … again. We’re a couple of old people uneducated in current technology. As a consequence we don’t understand the ins and outs of tech stuff.

The only ISP plan to which we have access limits our bandwidth download capability (there is no DSL etc. with unlimited download capability out here and the forest around us blocks line-of-sight servers).

Soooo … please be aware that for a bit my access to the net will be limited, that accessing videos will be out of the question, that I will be instantly deleting any forwarded emails without opening and accepting only those which are personal contacts, my presence on Facebook will be limited, and I will probably be limiting my computer use to mostly working on my book and playing games.

I do plan to continue to post the blog every week and will notify all of you when things change.

~~~

A bit ago I got a copy of the new Grisham book, “Gray Mountain”, which had been recommended on NPR and other sources. The teasers sounded good.

When I began to read … oops.

It was not at all what I had been expecting.

It was more and better.

If you think you have reason to distrust government now … read “Gray Mountain”. I recommend it … highly.

~~~

And speaking of books … I continue the process of clearing out years’ and years’ accumulation of books.

The library in Weed was completely destroyed in the Boles fire. So I’ve been packing some of the collection and leaving it on their doorstep. It is a bit hard for a strong bibliophile to let go, but I’m giving it my best shot.

Some of the books go on the shelves, others go into the “Free – Take one” box, and still others are set aside for the fund-raising book sale. This is making me feel better about losing them.

There are still the autographed ones (like the Pern ones with a personal letter from McCaffrey and the ones inscribed in Navajo by Hillerman) and a slew of cookbooks which are still in limbo. I’ll keep working at it.

~~~

Before the last storms

This was the Mountain before the rains …

Then last week, weather equaled rain and a bit more rain and then some more rain continues this morning. We accept what we get. Of course, I wish it had been snow several months ago.Rain

 

 

Kvetch  Kvetch  Kvetch

 

 

~~~

There are Two Attributres for Success

  1. Initiative — You have to try.
  2. Perseverance — You have to keep trying.

 

I’ll try again next week. ‘Til then …

 

 

 

 

 

 

My week began with being able to get some planting done …a new clematis, another blueberry and some ground cover for starters.

Rain

 

That night it rained (0.06″) just enough that I couldn’t plant more the next day.

 

Then saturday I got the peas out and in.

Hail

 

 

Sunday evening we had a lightning-thunder-hail volley (0.44″). And again on monday (1.14″).

 

 

 

So much for the peas.Wisteria

 

 

 

Weather has also done a job on the wisteria. Blooms this year are fewer, sparser, and bleached out.

 

Oh well …

~~~

Last weekend’s opera … “The Rake’s Progress” by Stravinsky (W.H.Auden and his partner were co-librettists) was in English. That was a plus.

The story concerns the decline and fall of one Tom Rakewell, who deserts Anne Trulove for the delights of London in the company of Nick Shadow. (Don’t you love those names?) And I discovered that Robert Rounseville, who sang Hoffmann in our favorite version of the “The Tales of …”, sang the rake in the premier performance in 1951.

The moral of the opera is: “For idle hearts and hands and minds the Devil finds work to do.” Reminds me of my grandmother’s admonition that “Idle hands are the devil’s playground,” which is why I find it difficult to just sit watching the tv with my hands in my lap although I’m not sure what work the devil would find for essential tremor hands.Rake's Mezzo

 

And there is always the bearded lady …

 

~~~

More simple pleasures …

        Smooches for no special reason.Fir

        New cedar growth.    

        The sound of kittens.

        Rediscovery of an old photo.

        Afternoon naps.Dogwoods

 

 

 

Dogwoods.

 

 

 

~~~

13 May 2015

It has been a bit of a difficult week. Saving grace is I’m positive things will get better.

But as a result, there hasn’t been much time for the blog. I’ll try to do better next week.

~~~

 In closing …

Safety pin 1

Found this at FBOFW tis morning …Safety pin 2

 

 

and remembered this …

 

 

 

 

~~~

Always keep in mind …

Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift. unknown

                     and

        Everyone dies, but not everyone lives. Albert Einstein

 

‘Til next week …

 

 

 

 

 

6 May 2015                    This morning the Mountain was covered with clouds.

~~~

The diagnosis from last week’s x-rays was degenerative arthritis as well as a compression fracture and anterior slippage between two vertebrae in George’s  lumbar spine. He is pretty restricted in movement, but with all your positive thoughts, we’ll get through this.

I had been convinced he has (yes, has … not had) Lyme disease and his current problems are mostly results of that condition. Last week I came across an article by the author Amy Tan about her condition which solidified my conviction.

Lyme is a relatively unknown (and consequently undiagnosed) disease. For more information about this insidious condition, check out …

http://www.humanthology.com/lyme-disease/2014/9/15/slyme-disease-how-a-speck-changed-my-life-forever

~~~

I had to make a run to Yreka last wednesday to pick up a prescription for George. The trip north was a real “trip”. The clouds were bottomed at about 5,000′ and so all the surrounding high mountains (including the Mountain) had disappeared. All that were left were the lower mountains and the lava-built hills.

It was strange going up the valley with no McLaughlin, no Goose Nest, no Herd’s Peak, no Eddy, no Whaleback, no Black Butte, and NO Mountain.

Wouldn’t you know … I’d left the camera at home.

~~~

I had an interesting and unexpected experience while reading the Gaiman. Even at my age I have a pretty good memory so the experience left me bamboozled.

Gaiman writes fantasy. Wonderful fantasy. Captivating fantasy. I enjoy stepping into his universes. I understand the people there. I’ve had experiences similar to those experienced there. I recognize the landscapes there. Without hesitation, I identify the sights, smells, and sounds there.

So why, when I’ve finished reading a story or poem, am I unable to remember the story line?

Why can I re-read the story and have a completely new experience?

Alternate universe?        

Whatever …

“If you were isolated somewhere (a desert island) and could take only one book with you, what book would you take?”  My answer to that old question is obvious. I’d take anything by Gaiman.

Other books may be better written or hold more important views, but after being read two or three times would be memorized and hold nothing new. However, I could read a Gaiman over and over and over and read a new book every time.

~~~Crab Apple

The tree we planted when our older grandson was born just sat there, existing, for too many years. Then a couple of years ago, when Tyler reached his maturity, it began to prosper. This year it is amazing.

Maybe crab apple jelly rather than peach jam this year.

~~~

Are you a fan of Oscar Hammerstein? You know … Broadway’s Rodgers and Hammerstein … “South Pacific”   “Anna and the King of Siam”   “Oklahoma”

If you are, and even if you aren’t, … listen to Hammerstein’s lyrics. He was a man with a message which we still need to hear. An unrecognized teacher.

Some examples … “You have to be taught” and “Getting to know you” and “The farmer and the cowman”.

~~~

Last saturday, the opera was “Un Ballo in Maschera” by Verdi. Another chance to listen to beautiful (both visually and audiotorially … is there such a word?) baritone Dimitri. You remember Dimitri …

I still think leads should be baritones.

In “Ballo”, Amelia is an idiot if she would give up Dimitri for a tenor (in spite of the fact that I married a tenor). Of course, the Count is the bad guy (spoiler … he kills the King) but he has the best singing part in the opera. Maybe Dimitri chose to sing it deliberately since it is the better role … more and better arias.

This coming saturday we will hear “The Rake’s Progress” in which a mezzo sings the part of a bearded lady.

Aaaahhhhhhhh  …  opera.

~~~

Marmalade

 

I had planned on making marmalade and strawberry jam monday. But Juan Urena, my greengrocer, didn’t have strawberries. So marmalade got done. Strawberries will wait for the coming weekend.

 

~~~

A pair of Canada geese circling low overhead, calling to each other.

The sharp white of dogwood blossoms peeking through the evergreens.

The bronze of the new oak leaves.

Lilacs

 

The odor of the blossoming lilacs.

Fresh eggs every evening.

Michael Iris

 

The first of the Michael iris.

 

Sand cranes in the meadow.

Such simple things to keep simple folks happy …

~~~

Any “Fringe” fans out there?

If so … can you tell me how Peter, who supposedly loves Olivia, could mistake a double for her to the point of co-habitation when the double has strawberry blonde hair and wears full bangs while the real Olivia is a lighter blond and wears her hair pulled straight back? Could you tell the difference between your significant other and a double?

~~~

And in closing …

Realize that everything that happens in your life is for a positive purpose. Some you will recognize, some you won’t. Frequently repeat … “This, too, is for the good.”  Every life situation has been sent to you as a test and challenge to help you grow.

 

So … ’til next week …

 

 

 

 

 

Mikayla 1995

 

Our granddaughter turned twenty-one today. I’m not sure how she got there in such a short time.

Somehow both she and the cherry tree we planted when she was born have matured.

 

Sunrise Sunset … Mikayla's Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~~~

The visit to the retinologist went well. Not too much improvement in George’s sight, but no deterioration either. And we don’t need to make another trip to Oregon until June.                  Kaloo Kalay!

It used to be that a trip to Oregon to shop (or enjoy Lithia Park) was an enjoyable day. But having made the trip umpteen times since the first of the year has gone a long way toward wiping off the glamour. Maybe a six week hiatus will change that.

~~~
Apple Blossoms

The apple tree is finally coming into bloom, the wisteria is putting out blossom whatever-you-call-‘ems … and on the last trip north we saw that the local Pacific dogwoods are in full bloom.

On the trip, we noticed a field of California Poppies in Oregon and George laughed at them taking our flowers.

Oregon Grape

 

But there is an Oregon Grape in the backyard … in bloom.

 

Maple Buds

 

The maple is finally showing growth.

Baby Fir

And there is a baby fir getting an early start of the lovely new life …

Our Doe

 

as is our doe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weird weather did in the apricot harvest and seriously damaged the peaches. No opinion re plums yet.

 

~~~29 April 2015

Today there are low clouds on the mountain to the south. Maybe more rain.Lilac

 

Look close at the lilac on the left over the bell. It is getting ready.

 

~~~

In closing for this week … George has been having back problems. It has put a crimp in our regular routine and an adaptation in chores. At the moment, we are in a holding pattern, as is George’s pain level.

23 April 2015Last monday we made a trip down to the VA Clinic in Redding to have xrays done. The trip down the canyon and back up was lovely … mostly. I don’t see as much when I’m driving as when I ride shotgun.

I did see enough to make my eyes happy. The time for redbud and dogwood is past, but the mountain lilac, sweet broom, locust, mustard, and soap bush are doing their springy thing. Of course we couldn’t stop (after all, I-5 is a freeway), but I’d be willing to bet the air was full of wonderful smells.

The one thing not so lovely was the appearance of three or four fairly new clear cuts in the canyon. Clear cuts have marred the mountain sides in Oregon for years, but they are just now making their appearance in our mountains.

And one real giggle was a “Magic Bus” in the parking lot at Pollard Flat.

 

 

Back to George’s back … I truly believe things will improve. I am looking for the lesson in this challenge and then being able to get on with it. However, if I am a bit late with a blog or seem distracted … forgive …

 

 

And so ’til next week …