Sunday, October 16, 2016


My friend Domenic Torchia says:

“We must undo the damage done by the hateful rhetoric from the teapublicans and bring back civility and respect for all Americans and American institutions. Opinions will differ (hate is not an opinion) but in the end we all must be Americans.”

Americans build together, have faith in each others goals, no matter what party. Americans believe that differences of opinion are healthy; working together with opposing views brings out our strengths. That was once upon a time… Things have changed dramatically.
 (Image by Getty)

Here is how the Miami Herald assessed the hypocrisy of this election:

Bill Clinton cheats on his wife. Impeach him. Trump proudly brags about sexual assault (and has cheated on his wives). Elect him. Hillary oversaw the department of state while 4 people died in an embassy attack. Put her in jail. 2 Republicans were in office while over 200 people died in embassy attacks. No problem. Immigrants don’t pay taxes. Round them up and kick them out. Trump doesn’t pay taxes. He’s a business genius. Hillary’s foundation only spent 87% of their donations helping people. She’s a crook. Trumps foundation paid off his debts, bought sculptures of him, and made political donations to avoid investigations while using less than 5% of funds for charity (and he got shut down by NY State). So savvy... Put him in the white house. Trump made 4 billion dollars in 40 years, when an index fund started at the same time with the same “small loans” he received would be worth $12 billion today… without a trail of bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits and burned small business owners. He’s a real business whiz. Hillary took a loss of $700k. She’s a criminal. Trump is the first candidate in the modern era not to release his tax returns, and took a billion dollar  loss in 1 year. Genius. Hillary takes responsibility for private email servers and apologizes. Not credible. Trump denies saying things (on the record) he actually said (on the record), he’s just telling it like it is.

Your arguments are thin. Your ignorance of reality is shocking. Your double-standards are offensive, and your willingness to blindly support him and recycle the rhetoric is absurd. Your opinion is not fact. Your memes are not news articles. And your hypocrisy is not a platform.
Alex Schiller

I thought it was worth repeating. Thank you Alex Schiller.

Saturday, October 8, 2016


I spent a week in Oregon to get ready for winter. A storage building matches the house my son, Doug, built for me. It was full of leftover building materials, necessary tools and "stuff". It is small but useful except it was boiling hot at the end of the day and freezing in the morning. You couldn't work in it with any comfort.  First, I had a trench dug from the house to the building for electricity and water. Over that a new driveway put in.
Paisley, helped her grandfather rake out the gravel. Grandfather Frank is driving the equipment in the background.
The rake is a bit heavy, but helping grandpa is important.
Frank emptied everything out of the shed and with a special machine, hoisted the sheet rock up to the ceiling with a helper.
Everything inside got put outside.
I brought home stuff no longer needed to donate to Habitat for Humanity. Then the rains came, a day earlier than predicted. We were able to quickly get things under plastic and protected.  I didn't get a picture.
We put some stuff back in the building. It is still raining, and no more work has been done on the storage building.  My next project is a car port for my van. Then, I'll be finished with my place in Oregon. I mapped out the spot to put the car port, but I'm told I have to be there. Another trip is set for the last week of October-early November. Then I'll snuggle in and work on my genealogy and quilts during the cold months of winter.

I know my storage building is pretty boring stuff, but from Oregon I hope to do some road traveling in my van if I ever get my projects in Murphys completed.

Friday, October 7, 2016


 (A Getty Image.)

I have a tough time understanding why people, especially women, and African-Americans will vote for Trump.
People want to believe what they want to believe and it has been fear that moves that train along.

In the 1960's, The John Birch Society used a former black Communist Party member to convince the masses that Moscow intended to turn America's Southern states into a black colony of the Soviets.  Those were the cold war years of fearing Russian aggression.

Ronald Reagan coveted a Republican National Committee loyalist, Dr. Gloria Toote, who made the case for him that the Negro will be delivered to a "Federal plantation"  if the opposition wins.

Trump has  black Reverend Mark Burns who preaches,  "Our enemy is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party." Then, at Trump's convention, was David Clarke Jr., a black version of Arizona's Joe Arpaio, making the case that Black Lives Matter is a "hate group."

In the case of women, when one of his supporters at a Trump rally, punched a woman in the face and knocked her down, he gave a thumbs up and said, "It's always more fun at a Trump rally."
The rape case of a 13-year-old girl filed against Trump and Jeffery Epstein, a convicted pedophile, was refiled in New York this week.  Trump says of Epstien, "Jeff is a fun guy to party with". Fun, indeed.

He made references to killing Hillary by pointing a gun at her head in a picture. On his website, the kill messages from his followers was frightening. He went overboard when his entourage rode into Indiana with an effigy of Clinton being hanged. People were horrified.

Now, he is suggesting that in Philadelphia and in other Pennsylvania districts, they should intimidate voters and do anything to challenge voters, as has been done in the past. Voter patrols wandering around in black neighborhoods with guns,  telling people they can be arrested if they don't have the proper identification.  Trump believes it is okay to do this kind of stuff; to do anything to win.

And, of course, the Republican Party has vilified Hillary for years. She has an irrefutable record of dedicated public service but if you call someone a liar long enough and often enough, people begin to believe it.
Calling Trump a bully is too kind. He harbors criminal intent in his campaign. He should be investigated for bribery, fraud and hate crimes, but there is a double standard for the rich and influential people of the world.
Billionaire Warren Buffet has often said, "My secretary pays more taxes than I do." He thinks it is unfair.  And, it is. And if you vote for Trump and he wins, you will be poorer.

And, America, the greatest country in the world, will also be poorer in the eyes of the world.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


A group of Native American Women from the Northwest have made it a goal to protect a herd of albino buffalo. The picture makes them look golden, but in real life, they are white and much desired by hunters.
The Grandmothers of the White Buffalo Lodge came to Murphys to perform a ritual "Turning Of The Turtle" native ceremony to recognize and celebrate the Equinox on Sept. 22nd.
After the ceremony was completed, everyone gathered to a feast.
In recent years, interested people have joined the Grandmothers in their cause, and my neighbor, Jan Stewart became a Grandmother four or five years ago. She hosted this gathering, along with neighbors like myself.
Jan invited one Grandfather to this gathering, John Weaver, a naturalist who gave an eloquent presentation about his totem, the vulture. "I wanted my totem to be a raven, but the vulture spoke to me, raining down feathers in my path. He spoke of the bird as a cleansing creature. He repeated an ancient Indian legend about the vulture sacrificing its beauty by flying into the sun an getting burned when it moved the sun farther away from the earth to protect man. Then he invited each of us to pick a vulture feather to take home.
He gifted Jan with a little stuffed white buffalo.
Grandfather John also brought a selection of beautiful polished rocks for all of us to examine and touch and discuss.  Here is a small part of his collection.  But, I dally, on to the ceremony.
Each person is smudged before entering the ceremonial grounds.
Then anointed with essential oils, a mixture of favorites from all of the Grandmothers.
We gathered in a ring around the turtle.
Owl kept guard.dsc08678-copy
The ceremony of turning the turtle is sacred and no pictures are allowed. In essence, the turtle is made from earth untouched by human hands. Grandma Tanya stated she got her soil for turtle from Luli Ani, if my ear caught the name of gopher correctly. It is taken up with a trowel or basket and made into a turtle shape with rock legs, tail and head. In the ceremony, the head points West for fall.
During the ceremony, each person placed a small bouquet on the turtle's back and thanked the spirits for giving us the bounty of nature, or prayed for a loved one present or passed. We sang several songs, trying to follow along with the unknown Indian words. Then people got up and danced, shaking their gourd rattles, or drumming their animal skin drums. It was a fascinating ceremony and done with much reverence. Then four of us tied a bag of herbs on each pole representing North, South, East West, blessing the earth and praying for the harvest season  or "fall".
As we looked up from our fine dinner, a beautiful pink cloud sailed overhead.
Guests were invited to select a gourd from the table before we left.

Jan has painted a gourd for her coffee table and has much to display her dedication to being a Grandmother of the White Buffalo Lodge. Two years ago, she made a trip to visit the buffalo and meet with the Grandmothers in their territory.

Saturday, September 24, 2016



According to the latest New York Times poll, Gary Johnson is supported by 26 percent of young voters.
Here are, in my opinion, the questionable points of his platform:
  • He supports the TTP.
  • He supports fracking.
  • He likes Citizen's United.
  • He doesn't want to raise the minimum wage AT ALL.
  • He opposes any measure that  will make college more affordable or help student debt. He thinks student loans should be abolished completely.
  • He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
  • He opposes net neutrality.
  • He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he's open to privatization.
  • He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
  • He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
  • He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
  • He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • He opposes any government action to address climate change.
  • He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
  • He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
  • He wants to remove the Fed's mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
  • He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
  • He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.
  • Okay, so he supports legalizing marijuana.
  • He's good on civil liberties and wants to cut way back on overseas military interventions.
  • He's moderate on immigration.
  • He supports gay rights and a woman's right to choose.
It would disenfranchise young people in more ways than it would help improve their lives. Do they not realize that positions like his have a negative affect on their lives?  People often vote against their own best interests.

Information came from Kevin Drum, who is a political writer for Mother Jones, a non-profit magazine. You can catch him on-line on FB and other venues.

Friday, September 23, 2016


I met Paul Moeller when he came to my writer's workshop in 1979. I talked him into taking one of my daughter's baby cats home. Then later, in 1980, I joined his classes in video taping. He was determined to get public access programing into Calaveras County. He was so dedicated and so hardworking, you couldn't say "no" to Paul. He's had some tough years, with two broken femurs, strokes and other injuries. Here he is with his caretaker, Pam. He seems to be kind of wondering why everyone is making such a fuss over his birthday.
After his wife died, Marilyn Pyle has taken care of his bookkeeping and his mail and most of the things Martha took care of. Indispensable to him and he feels bereft when she is missing. She quickly organized his birthday party. Just some balloons, friends and cheesecake.
Paul certainly has aging issues; he speaks very slowly but he said of his good friend and neighbor, Bill with his wife Linda, "If you want trouble, you call Bill. Then you get more trouble."  It tickled me he could make a joke.
Paul is like family and Marilyn's husband Vern, and his son, Mitch came by. They do the heavy hauling, moving furniture, dump runs-you name it, they show up.
Marilyn thought it would be nice to take a group picture, which includes Karen Phillips, his long time driver after his first accident, and on the right Audry, Marilyn's mother. I'm in the middle.
Then about that time, Sue showed up. But, we took a lot of pictures anyway.
Karen has a lot of memories of Paul and faithfully visits him every week.
Marilyn decided to put a candle on his favorite cake. Cheesecake at his request.
After we sang Happy Birthday...
He blew out the candle and we spent an hour or more just visiting. He has difficulty hearing on the phone. He rarely has his hearing aids in. But he had calls from friends and relatives in Germany. He has good days and bad days and this one was a good day. He could remember stories and bring up names from the past.
He asked me to take a picture of him with all of his cards. Many of them have cats on them. He lost his cat recently and a stray was hanging around Bill and Linda's house. They suggested he feed the cat. It is feral and now hangs around Paul's big sliding glass window. And though he can't pet it, he enjoys seeing the cat come and eat. He named her/him Roosevelt or Rosie. "I go both ways," he joshed.
I worked on 85 shows with Paul, as his anchor. It amazed me how he could remember names of past friends while I struggled. Paul is a legend in our county. The Board of Supervisor's named the studio after him as an honor. And his legacy of over 4,000 productions

Monday, September 19, 2016


My friend? No, a friend to everybody, Carol Flemming, held a bash at her house for her 75th birthday party. "My kids insisted on this party," she told me. I totally understand that. The "kids" think you are on your last legs and counting when you reach 75.
I met Carol when I wrote features for the Calaveras Enterprise. It was 1982 and I featured her costume business, a unique and wonderfully creative business that is still going. Marti Oaks, right, with her son, worked for Carol and at one time lived in my Murphys house.
Pat Patterson, right, also worked costume design. It was fun catching up with old friends.
I also got to meet Carol's daughter, Liz, whom I'd never met before, along with her daughter, whose name I didn't get.
Carol's son Beau barbecued chicken and tri-tip. He, like his mom is a good cook. I'd met him when Carol had a restaurant in Arnold, the Froggy Diner. There is always cooking or a side business in Carol's life.dsc08583-copy

There were her friends and neighbors of all ages. Names seem to float out of my brain. This woman, like me, is finding acreage hard to keep up and looking to downsize. I hear that more and more from people I know.

Dale said she didn't take good pictures, but I do. I thought her laugh made her beautiful. It turned out, she knows my brother Clark.

I finally got this little girl to smile for my picture. But she kept a protective closeness to her parents.
My brother Clark was once a neighbor of Carol's in Burson. This man remembered he and Clark fixing a bridge that went out, before CalTrans was even called.
This woman too, talked to me at length of all the favors that Clark does for the neighbors. He helped with projects after her husband died, making her ever grateful.
This couple also know Clark and talked about him and the neighborhood, and things they've done together. He talked about Clarks 17 years of sobriety.
Another daughter, Mona and another grand daughter, I'd never met.
And, Carol's daughter China Rose with her two girls. She also has two sons. I hadn't seen China in over 17 years.
The baby was determined to sleep, but China wanted her to stay awake for the long ride back to Santa Cruz. I remember those days.
Carol joined the kids in the pool for a cooling dunk. I love it when you get to enjoy your own party.
This smart woman is a former daughter-in-law-still friends of the family. She gave me good advice about AirBnB...ideas have been floating through my brain all day.
dsc08602-copyThe woman in red, Cindy, I think is her name. She is an artist. I always complain I never have time to paint or create.  Her very good advice, "Make it your priority, first thing in the morning. Everything else can wait."
dsc08612-copyA birthday surprise for Carol, her brother Willie flew in from Hawaii.
dsc08626-copyI tried to get a picture of everyone. And, I missed Phil, her husband, who was busy, busy, busy, tending the bar and keeping people happy. There is a pattern, here.
dsc08593-copyKids, babies, teens, middle agers, old folks...
You know what was different about this party?  I saw no one with their head down, texting and playing with their phone or messages or...whatever they do. That, my friends, is what was special about this birthday party. A rarity. And great fun.