Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Walk #180: A Homecoming Loop

It has become our tradition that when I return from my five days of work, we take a walk as a family. Jazmine asked if we were going to go walking within five minutes of my homecoming. This time we took the bunny, in addition to the dog.

This is a nice transition to our rural life. We get a chance to catch up on our adventures, as we lazily walk along.

Savor. Savor. Savor.
By the way, I've added photos to flesh out the stories in the last few day's entries. Enjoy...

Walk #179: Market...

Sunset at the hospital. See why I work there?

Dinner at my favorite restaurant in St. Helena (see above) followed by a walk about town. Afterwards I returned to my room at the hospital, where I took the upper most photos.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Walk #178: Running into Ian (sort of)

Sunday night. Super Duper hot outside.

I waited until the sun had set--then I drove to Calistoga to walk around the town. Calistoga is a perfect walking town. It is filled with quaint cottages and beauty. It was also quite busy, with lots of couples walking hand in hand, having spent the day at the many local spas or wine tasting. A little walk before dinner is a pleasant way to spend the weekend, and couples converge on Calistoga in droves. I'm thinking many families were conceived there.

When I returned to my car (parked in front of the bookstore) I'll be darned if I didn't see the book that Ian contributed to, displayed in the front window. I laughed. Took a photo of it. You are being heavily promoted in Calistoga, Ian!

I would have purchased a copy, but the store was closed. I'll pick it up next time I'm in town.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Walk #177: B Side Checks...

Three Psychiatric Nurses and a Professor...

Yeah, that is me...attempting to be a pseudo intellectual; pontificating on, amongst other things, the end of the American empire, treatment of the mountain lion, the selfishness of the baby boom generation and the lack of after school programs in Concow. Yawn...

Another Saturday night. Another barbecue. The intention was to walk after the gathering, but, well, I didn't. I did manage to spend the night on R.O's couch.

So I'm gonna cheat (I do make up the rules here) and include some work time walking as my walk for this day. Otherwise known as "B Side Checks. This involves the very simple task of having a clipboard and making sure you have visual contact with a client every fifteen minutes. We do this all day--always monitoring, always vigilant.

I've worn a pedometer at work before just to see how far we do walk during the day. Doing this sort of assignment it isn't unusual to walk 8,000 to 12,000 steps in a shift. That would be around four to six miles. All this done within a 200 foot hallway. Up and down. Back and forth. On and on.

Yeah, I know, this is way cheesy and shouldn't count.

On the bright side, driving up the Silverado Trail this morning at 5:30 am, I saw my second mountain lion in two weeks! This one was on the side of the road and had the brightest tan hide. The tail had a black splotch on the very end. Exciting!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Walk #176: Walking the Napa Valley: Rutherford Road and Honig

The Rutherford Grill---get the ribs and the cornbread!

An entrance to an estate. Can you say "tax the rich?"

I walked this road to the winery (above and below).

An every day tragedy.

Okay, this job is rigorous, but I accept. The mission is to walk all the little intersecting roads across the Napa Valley. If I should, by chance, stumble into a winery for a free tasting, well, somebodies gotta do it: me!

The next intersector was Rutherford Road. Rutherford is one of the tiny, little towns that inhabits the Napa Valley. Just a few miles south of St. Helena, it boasts one decent restaurant (the Rutherford Grill...make sure you get the cornbread) and a sprinkling of large wineries. BV is there. Grigich Hills is nearby.

So I walk. A hot day, I walk past a few houses. The road becomes narrow. Off to the sides are some impossibly huge estates. The lawns look like the sort of lawns that people play lawn bowling on. I peek through some gates to see how people live who have lots more money than I do. I bet they have never built a house of straw and mud. Nor would they want to.

I walk on. Past the Napa River til I come to a road lined with Palm Trees. At the conclusion of the road is a new winery. Check it out.

Lovely. Tastings by appointment only. That has never stopped me. I go inside. The hostess tells me that they pair their wine with food, and that the last tasting was an hour ago. "You are welcome to look around", she said.

I do. Typical Napa Valley Gaudy Chic. I belly up to the wine bar, but the server doesn't pour me a glass. Time to move on.

Down the road I turn into Honig Winery. It is about half a mile to the winery. I've had their wine before, as they are reasonably priced. They are by appointment only too, but I manage to talk the wine room guy into a tasting.

As he pours me a glass of wine, I look at the displays. This winery has a sense of humor. The staff are dressed up in all sorts of interesting outfits and poses, with captions like "Honig's Angels" a spoof on Charlies Angels. Seems timely with Farrah Fawcett passing away and all.

We chat. I pull my typical I'm-a-local-nurse-on-a-walk-will-you-give-me-a-free-tasting line. It works. This winery has gone 100 percent solar. They also are attempting to be "sustainable" (not organic). They have created space for a wildlife refuge next to the river (which actually has been won by local enviros pushing for agricultural setbacks). They pump how Green they are. They have created Owl boxes.


They then serve me four Cabernet's. The 2006 was quite good. They give me a deal on a bottle and I leave. The wine room manager invites me to come back anytime. "I'll serve you when ever you happen to be taking a walk".

Now I don't know if this defeats the purpose of taking a walk: Walking from winery to winery. But heck, it sure is fun.

A trend. I've noticed from several tastings that the 2006 vintage of the Cabernet's are uncommonly good from the Napa Valley. I think this might be one of their better years. Pick up a 2006 Napa Valley Cab from a decent winery and see if you agree.

Walking home, I come across a squished squirrel in the road. Not sanctuary enough for this poor critter.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Walk #175: What's In The Trees? Another Cougar Story...

Can you find the turkey vulture in this photo?

My pup and I walked around Eight this morning. Thought I'd get it done early, as today is a travel day for me. Gotta keep earning that paycheck, so I'll be leaving this afternoon for the Napa Valley.

Angel and I stirred up a turkey vulture. He went and sat in an old Oak tree, where I took his photo.


While walking I often forget to look up. Unless I hear something stirring, I often don't see what's hanging out in the branches of trees.

An RN I work with told me this story last weekend. I had been talking about seeing a mountain lion and what a thrill that was.

This RN grew up on a ranch. When she was small, she didn't know what a mountain lion was. But she kept seeing "big kitties" in trees, while wandering around the property. The ranch did have a mountain lion that regularly ate livestock. Anyway, this RN, as a child would climb the trees to go pet the "big kitties".

Evidently, this "big kitty" became so enraptured with her, that he would visit her window at night. Peeking his head above the eave and watching her human. When the little girl told her parents about the big kitty, they didn't believe her.

"I know this all happened", the sixty-something RN told me, "I was much too old to not remember it. I was around eight or nine, at the time". This encounter with the mountain lion has led to a life long affection for the large predator.

"I love them", she told me.

Lest you think this story is bizarre, consider this: The town of Los Gatos, California (home of Steve Wozniak and Joe Kapp) got it's name, according to legend, when a mountain lion was seen playing with some settler children--gently, like a domesticated cat. Los Gatos: the cats.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Walk # 174: Kidney Stones...

Another hot day. I took a short, loop walk with my dog. Sweated the whole time. I'm still dripping as I type this.

Kidney stone weather.

I've been living in the Great Basin Southwest since 1993. The one lesson a Minnesota boy learns by moving to a hot, desert climate is the importance of drinking water. During the summer, Joni and I keep a large cooler filled with ice water. Nothing tastes better. Forget beer, wine and whiskey. Forget fru fru drinks. What a person wants living out here is ice water.

And we don't have air conditioning. Yes, we do have a small, swamp cooler set up for emergencies (we haven't used it yet); we try and survive without air conditioning.

Back to water. For the first ten years living out here, I didn't drink enough water. That led to a nasty pain at 4 am a few years ago. A year later I made another early morning trip to the ER and wrote about that experience here.

Since then, I've been much more careful about consuming water. I have no urgency to experience passing another kidney stone.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Walk #173: Morning and Night

A hot day. We are into the blisteringly hot part of the summer--just entering it. Yes, the Mojave desert may be hotter than the Foothills, but you expect that of a desert. In a sense, the heat of the Mojave is part it's charm, along with the most poisonous of rattlesnakes, the Mojave rattler (complete with both hemo and neuro toxins in it's venom).

The heat here is not as dry, and therefore a bit more uncomfortable. You learn to adapt. Locals take naps and learn to do their work in the morning or the evening (out here, people with jobs--and therefore normal schedules---are the exception to the rule). Walking in the morning just seems too barbaric to me. Mornings are for drinking coffee half-lidded and blearily watching the news.

Just like there are two types of runners: those who run in the morning (to me, an Axis One diagnosis if I ever saw one); and those who run in the afternoon (the sensible folks). I was in the latter category in my once-upon-a-time running days. My pietistic Lutheran Pastor brother belonged to the former category. An early bird. Conventional folks run in the morning; radicals in the afternoon.

So I walk at sunset. And you?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Walk #172: A Family Walk...

Nice to have Joni and the girls along with me tonight. They joined me after I returned from the Napa Valley--having successfully put a few extra shifts together.

The sad thing is that I'm not sure how many of these walks we will continue to have as a Family--as the girls may return to their Father soon (after living with us for five years). A deeply personal story to be determined by a Robed Stranger.

But really, isn't that what life is like? One never knows what will happen when you walk out the door in the morning. There is always the possibility of being hit by a meteor, a traffic accident or (at my age) a disastrous cardiac event.

All things are fragile. Change is a law. Life is as much dependent upon dumb luck as serious planning. Sooner or later, we all have our own personal Armageddon.

A memory of a walk with a Loved One is something to cherish. Relish. Savor. Be present with those who are Presents to you. Even if it is for a few years, a month, a week or an afternoon stroll. Be present.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Walk #171: Extra Shifts...

One nice thing about being an RN is the ability to pick up some extra shifts now and then. Our financial coffers are getting a little like Mother Hubbard's cupboard: empty. So I called work and told them I was available.

Last night, around 8 pm I got the call. I could work today. Seeing as I travel a whole lot, I keep my suitcase packed for such calls. I left shortly after the phone rang and drove to the Napa Valley, arriving around midnight; checked into my St. John of the Cross Room and tried to sleep.

To no avail.

Finally, after a couple hours of sleep, the alarm rang and I showed up not very bushy tailed to work. A glutton for punishment, I worked extra: a twelve hour shift.

So, my walk tonight was short. Twenty minutes around the grounds of the hospital.

As in answer to prayers, I was offered a 12 hour shift tomorrow too. I thankfully picked it up.

This is what Father's do when families are short on money. Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Walk #169: I Join The Club!!

What club you might ask? Keep reading.

Been working all day on the Addition. I put in a few windows (see my other blog). I also moved the straw bales for the umpteenth millionth time. I figured that it isn't gonna rain anymore, so I moved the bales out of the house. Freed up lots of space.

When I started my walk I noticed storm clouds gathering on the horizon. I hightailed it home and covered the straw bales (so that they won't get wet). Happy the bales were covered, I started out again.
I put Angel on a leash, and decided to keep her on the leash this time. Unusual for me, as I mostly let her run. Not tonight.

When I got down to the "T" in the road, I felt something watching me. The glare was so intense it stopped me in my tracks.

I looked ahead.

In the thicket, I could see a rather large creature. It was dark in there, but I could see the critter was watching me. I continued walking, trying to make out what I was looking at. I didn't want to take my eyes off it to get my camera...so I fumbled for it in my pocket while watching the animal.

"Is it a coyote?", I thought. Just then it moved across the road ahead that goes into Lonnie's property.

My God! It's a Cougar!" A rush of adrenaline runs through me. I saw him full on sideways, slinking away the way a mountain lion should. That long profile with the long tail. Beautiful!

He stopped in some trees, just past the road and took one last look at me. Probably judging whether I was fair game or not. Then he ran off through the Manzanita bushes.

The Cougar looked at me from in between these trees, then ran off through the Manzanita bushes in the background.

So now I am part of a very small club: Those Who Have Seen A Cougar In The Wild! On my 169th walk (at the age of 48 years, 3 months and 12 days), I finally saw one! Now I can cross that one off my life list.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Walk #168: A Sweaty Old Fart...

If a person were to meet me on this later evening walk, they might be a bit frightened. Sweaty. Certainly in need of a hot shower. Clothes torn. An old Beatles T-shirt that is left over from skinnier times. Yes, if someone was to meet this Walking Buffoon, they would think that I didn't have a home, job, career, education or a clue. They would probably give me a wide berth; move to the other side of the road.

After a day of working on the house, Kylie and Jazmine actually wanted to go for a walk with me. Jazmine wanted to ride her bike. Kylie walked beside me, talking incessantly about the fifth Harry Potter book she is reading right now. Getting dark, they didn't want to turn around. Moments such as these need to be savored just like these long, long evenings just prior to the Summer Solstice.

Even if I look like a sweaty, homeless, old Fart.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Walk #167: 1890!!

I took the girls to Billie Park in Paradise today. I tried to talk them into taking a walk with me, but they would have nothing of it. They played for a bit and we went to the library. These signs (see above) are everywhere in the park since a mountain lion killed a couple of goats near here. Part of the reason for these signs is that a child was attacked in a Orange County Regional Park back in the mid 80's. The Family won a two million dollar judgment against the County.

Good grief!

Only two children have been killed in California from mountain lions. The last one happened in 1909 (the child died from Rabies, which would be quite treatable today). The only child to actually be killed during an attack occurred on June 19, 1890. Yes, 1890!

Given that the population of people has exploded in California, the mountain lion has pretty much left us alone. Mountain lions are protected in California, but those seen as presenting a danger are regularly killed. In other words, a seen mountain lion is a dead mountain lion. Signs like those above just stir up hysteria. Yes, we should always exercise caution. Always.

Have we become so isolated from nature that we need warning signs everywhere for absolutely every natural hazard? I don't see any warning signs before entering the death mauling freeway (deathway?).

I'll take my chances on an evening, solitary, sunset walk. My walking stick serves as a way of increasing my chances of surviving the walk. That seems much safer than commuting to work.

My walk happened this evening when a neighbor dropped by with his dog. Angel and I took a walk with him and discussed the news on the ridge (and our love for mountain lions, rattlesnakes and bears).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Walk # 166: Wild Carrots and Snake Skins...

Having (barely) survived the last five days of work, I drove back across the State of California to my Foothills Home. These long June days make it possible to visit with my family for a bit before heading out.

It is fun to discover what has popped up while I was gone. This time I noticed (what we used to call in Minnesota) wild carrots have blossomed:

Brady, the neighbor's dog, joined Angel and me.

Joni took a walk with the girls the other day. Angel (our dog) became quite agitated at something in the grass, along the side of the road. When Kylie went over to take a look, she found this five foot long snake skin. We think it belonged to a Gopher snake.

Good to be at my "off the grid" home. Now I have nine days to recharge before returning to the Napa Valley...
By the way, I added photos to the last few posts. Feel free to scroll down and enjoy the visual aids.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Walk #165: Walking the Napa Valley: Mee Lane; Alpha Omega Winery

Everybody has to have a goal in life. Or a hobby. Sometimes they just evolve out of the simplest, most stupid things: Like a blog. Like a New Year's Resolution.

I've started walking the roads which bisect the Napa Valley. Today I picked another one: Mee Lane. I don't think anyone has ever really walked this lane. Not much excitement happens there. And I discovered it doesn't bisect the Napa Valley, as it doesn't continue across the Valley to the two connector byways (highway 29 and the Silverado Trail). I walked it anyway.

Thoughts? Not much. A sleepy lane that not too many tourists turn on. Perhaps that is it's beauty? I did run across one rather provincial house (and vineyard). I'm sure some multi-millionaire lives there. I walked the road until it ended. Then I walked on the dyke that saves this most precious Real Estate from floods.

Back to the car.

The Alpha Omega Winery resides at the end of Mee Lane on Highway 29. One trick I have learned is that you can get free tastings if you just drop into a winery and announce you are local. I did this and got a free tasting from the nice tasting room employee. Result? They have five wines that they let you taste. Four of the wines for fifteen dollars--and an extra ten dollars to taste their last ultra premium wine.

The Sauvignon Blanc certainly was not worth the price of the bottle. The 2006 Chardonnay was quite excellent (and expensive at $48 a bottle). The finish was so long that you could have still tasted the wine ten minutes after taking a sip. Big. Buttery, but not obnoxiously so. They must have used the very best oak to make this wine, as the oakiness was present without being over the top. I'd give it a 9.5 on Allan's 10 point scale. Impress your friends. Buy this bottle of wine.

I shared the room with some obnoxiously yuppie twenty somethings. Do men really still wear those pink Ralph Lauren polo shirts?

Their Napa Valley Cab was also notable. Never quite tasted anything quite like it. Lots of tobacco flavor with lots and lots of tannin.

I left the tasting room having not bought a bottle of wine. Usually I do, but the wines were just too expensive for my wallet. If you have a bit of money, pick up the chardonnay or the Cab and ease my conscience. Okay?

Walk #164: Walking Your Blues Away...


Took a nap after work (for three and a half hours), wrote an entry on the computer and then a simple walk in St. Helena.

I find that I have to get away from the hospital after work. To just go back to my room and spend the evening there, within sight of the hospital, is just too depressing. Not that the hospital is in an ugly setting; it isn't. I've never seen a more beautiful setting for a hospital.

One needs a break from the work environment (especially when a person is living at work). I find these walks away from the hospital to be enormously helpful to my mental health.

Walks and mental health. We know that taking a walk four days a week for at least a half hour is as effective as anti-depressant medication to treat a mild depression. There is something in the movement which gets us literally "moving".

I also believe there is something to the bicameral motion of walking/running which helps to process problems and life issues. The transfer of balance across the two brain's hemispheres seems to stimulate problem solving abilities. You use both sides of the brain. For more on this, see Thom Hartmann's expensive, little book: Walking Your Blues Away.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Walk #163: The Sonoma non Diet

Hunter in front of his Century Plant
Saturday Night.

Having finished work I drove over to what was once a sleepy, little town called Sonoma. Famous for it's restaurants and town square--I'm on my way to have a barbecue with my friend Hunter.

Sonoma is not that far from the hospital (as the bird flies). The problem is that a mini mountain range separates the Napa Valley from the valley that Sonoma is in. The Mayacama mountain range. It takes forty five minutes to drive there.

I brought by about a pound and a half of steaks I bought at a Yuppie Market. Some stinky cheese and Vino fleshes out the meal. The wine was a blend that was on sale.

Being a fair guy, I must state that the wine I bought was a Zinfandel/Merlot blend. And it was quite good. So much for my anti-Zin tirade. Perhaps we have avoided barbarism?

We gorged on our NON SONOMA DIET and walked to the famous square where the last of the Spanish Missions was built in Adobe Fashion. Hunter is drinking Zambucas and beer. I behave myself, as I have to work the next day. Afterwards, we walk back to Hunter's place. A grand total of about an hour walk.

Sonoma is a nice town to walk in, although the very best part of the town is it's traditional zocolo style, town square with the Spanish mission (built in 1823).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Walk #162: Walking The Napa Valley: Zinfandel Lane

A "No Trespassing" Sign I can support!

I drove down to the Napa Valley last night. Checked in to the Monastic Dorm; went to my room. I turned on the TV and thought I would catch a little PBS before turning in.


The TV gets 14 stations, which is quite generous compared to what I grew up with (four channels). But far and away, PBS is my favorite. So when I turned on the TV last night, the Hospital Administration had decided to change the selection to the Trinity Broadcasting Network. I expected to see Bill Moyers and his ilk; I got Hal Lindsey instead.

We are in a recession. This hospital I work at is hanging on for dear life. I could go into the mistakes this hospital has made, but the Folks who run the place don't want to hear it. They have cut my weekend differential from 15 percent of my hourly wage, to Zero. They have stopped contributing to my 401K plan (frankly, I think Businesses were looking for a way to get out of that perk anyway). But when they changed the TV from PBS to the ultra-Fundamentalist, The Earth-Is-Only-Six Thousand-Years Old, Jesus-Was-A-Right Winger Garbage Stuff: I have to object! Loudly! With Vibrato!

Things don't look good for this hospital.

Work was fun. The Hospital Administration has cut fifty jobs which means they cut out the person who does the Creative Therapy for our unit. So I did a group (which I really enjoy anyway).

After work I decided to walk one of the roads that cut through the Napa Valley: Zinfandel Lane. Zinfandel is the grape that California is most famous for. I read that it's genetic heritage does reside in Europe, but has morphed into a wholly American Grape. It has been here for 150 years. I don't really like Zinfandel wines. I have yet to meet one that made me rave: "This is really good!" Zinfandel wines are what GM is to cars. Crap!

But I dutifully parked my car at Zinfandel Lane and walked. A nice walk initially. The vineyards are all organic here. To be politically correct in the Napa Valley, a vineyard simply must be organically certified. A good thing. This has led to an explosion of the Blue Bird population, as they are the one source that eats the scariest predator to grapes: the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter insect. Blue Birds are more popular in the Napa Valley than beards at a million man march of Amish men.

Anyway, the walk started well until my body told me that I had to go Number Two. Walk on. Ignore it.

Things started getting urgent. Perhaps I should go into the grape vines and drop my drawers? No. These grapes are all organic (and I just saw a "No Trespassing Sign" against chemical waste). My poop certainly would meet that criteria.

So I turned around and went (literally) back to the Monastic Dorm to take care of business. A forty minute walk.

P.S. As always when I am in the Napa Valley, I shall add photos when I return to the Foothills.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Walk #161: Delphenium of the Foothills

Hot today. I couldn't get a decent shot of this Delphenium. These cheap cameras don't always focus on what you want them to focus on.

A one hour walk. Brady (the dark dog) joined us for most of it.

Into the car I go now, for the 165 mile journey to work. I will be in the Napa Valley for five days before returning back to my Foothills home.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Walk #160: Looking for Trouble...

Three walks today--all with my dog. It was one of those days where errands had to be run. Unlike Ian, who writes his adventures in the comments section, I used my car. I am inspired by Ian's bike errands, but for me, there is about 1500 feet of elevation gained and lost, to do the same. Plus I'm not as adventurous as he is at turning my bike into a Peterbilt.

Maybe when I get into better shape?

In between errands, I walked the dog.

The last walk had a mission. Some local kids were doing what every local kid should do: traipsing through the woods and exploring every nook and cranny of said woods. It was reported by these kids that one of the properties on the ridge had some suspicious building activity: A hole dug in the ground with a small structure with some cooking equipment in it; sounds like a methamphetamine lab.

I walked over to one of my ridge friends to tell him to keep an eye on that particular property. I also went and visited the place. A menacing sign:

I'm brave, but not that brave.

I decided not to poke around the five dilapidated travel trailers, nor the other ramshackle structures, nor the six pickup trucks (all in disrepair) countable from the road. I will continue to keep an eye on the place. As will two other neighbors. I think I will pay them a friendly visit...

Methamphetamine is a problem in Concow. It also has been a problem on this ridge, although most of the meth freaks have been chased out.

While at my friend's place he showed me his fancy solar hot water system. He even makes his coffee out of this water. "I don't know why everybody doesn't do this", he said. " I have plenty of hot water eight months out of the year by doing this--all for free".

My friend's hot water system

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Walk #159: A Short Walk...

A short walk today. Short because we spent the day (finally) working on this silly looking house I am building.

On the walk I stopped (thankfully!) to talk with Bob. Bob is a veteran "off the grider"; a retired autoworker with Libertarian tendencies. He has noticed me walking by daily, and asked if his dog has been bothering me. Told him that I have finally won Bob's dog over---as the dog has finally let me pet him.

Just neighborly small talk: the sort of talk that almost never happened when I lived in Reno, Grand Junction, Calistoga, Las Vegas, Rochester, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Truckee, Preston and all the other places I've lived. Is it me? Or does being "off grid" make living on the ridge a bit more clubbish?

How often do you talk to your neighbors? Are you satisfied with your relationship with your neighbors?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Walk #158: Our Swimming Hole...

Angel and I went for a walk. Then we took the girls down to the swimming hole...

Clean water. Good for poison oak, Mosquito bites, skin ailments of all sorts, the heart break of psoriasis, eczema, ill tempers, distemper, my temper, keeping cool, keeping calm, keeping fit, sleep and almost everything under the sun.

This swim was interrupted by a snake that decided to visit Kylie (while she frozenly, unbelievably treaded water and watched the snake move closer). She screamed! ( From a distance of thirty feet or so, I couldn't see what sort of snake it was--but I did see it wriggling along in the water). The snake got to within a few inches of her screaming face. The snake then decided that it had frightened small children enough and veered another direction. Looking for Eve?

Every kid should have a creek to play in. A clean creek. With cold refreshing water and tumbly rapids. Ed Abbey used to say: "I don't want to live in a country where I can't drink out of it's rivers". Or at least swim in them.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Walk #157: Ceasar's Coin

Elegant Brodiaea. They are every where on a portion of my walk today. Nice to see the flowers of the field. What did Jesus say about King Solomon?

A friend asked me today what "socialism" means to me. This was my reply:

"To love being social. Ecosocialism? To love being social with nature. Capitalism? To love Capital (money). Seems as simple as that to me."

What side do you want to be on?

Forget old. tired State ownership of economies with a jackboot on the people's neck. The Soviet Union is long gone and buried. Empires collapse in different ways. The Soviets went to the market; meanwhile, GM just became Government Motors (which just might be the best thing that ever happened to GM). Twin sides of Caesar's coin.

For me, Socialism stands in a long, long American tradition of freedom. Of optimizing both human achievement and loving nature. A value system. It is less of an economic system and more of a philosophy. Liberalism with more tools in the shed.

Time to dust off and resurrect the term (Socialism). The other choice is barbarism.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Walk #156: Walking Like Tom Brown and John Muir

Still cloudy and cool. Very unusual for a June in the Foothills. My dog and I wandered out..

Angel likes to roll in this spot where the deer have bedded down. Covering her scent for the big hunt? Dogs descended from wolves and were domesticated only 12,000 years ago. They retain some of their wolfy instincts. Which makes me wonder what instincts we humans still retain? Can you think of any? Do we have any creatureliness left in us besides the urge to procreate?

In Tom Brown fashion, I've been checking out tracks. Here is a raccoon track (I believe).

And the blessed turkey vulture. Ed, you up there?

From looking at these deer tracks, I can just see them dancing. Or nervously awaiting something, much like a child standing in line who needs to pee really, really badly...

And my botanical John Muir moment! One lonely Foothills Pentstamen. A lovely plant...I look forward to finding more of it's brethren.

I learn something new everyday on this walk. It is a wonderful way to get to know a new home/environment.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Walk #155: Critters on a Rainy Day...

Two walks today.

On a rare, rainy June day. This keeps me (thankfully?) from working on the house. My first walk was short. Angel the dog was quite displeased with this situation. So, this afternoon after returning from the library in Paradise, Angel became an imp. She chewed one of Jazmine's shoes (she hasn't done that for months). She bounced on me as I tried to watch Chris Mathews. She found some yarn and ran about the house with it.

She got her point across.

So we took a second walk in the rain. A refreshing rain. Temperature about 61 degrees Fahrenheit.

We came across these tracks. I've been trying to figure out what they are. What is stumping me is that there are only four toes evident. My shoe gives an indication of how small they are. My hunch is that they belong to a possum, due to a possible scrunched fifth toe on the insides of the pads.

And somebody has been munching on this immature pine cone. A squirrel?

Munch. Munch.

And here is another critter. Homo Sapian Trespasserus.