Sunday, September 27, 2015

Structure or Flexibility?

David Cobb asked the question: would you rather be a flexible person in a structured society or a structured person in a flexible society. My short answer was flexible in structure. There is a longer answer based on life and experience though. 

I was born a flexible person in a structured society. I struggled, felt odd, questioned when I didn’t think I should. And here I have to give credit to my parents. Although structured people of their generation, my mother gave me the gift of imagination and my father let me know it was ok to question everything ~ of course he wanted me to come to his conclusions which didn’t always happen and he taught me to question. Thanks, Dad!! 

When the 60s and 70s arrived and all the establishment found itself under scrutiny and question, I felt more at home. The societal shake-up felt good to me. I felt more at home. Then professionally I became a stage manager and the structure and the flexibility came into balance. 

Nothing is more structured than a live theatre production that must run smoothly and consistently night after night. Everyone knows their job and where they are to be at any given moment. And . . . once in a while some thing happens in the middle of that structure. Mirror balls fall, actors trip or a prop gives way under them, fly lines break lose during performance or you receive a request for a procession at the opening of convention session. At that point flexibility takes over and the stage manager and crew hurriedly confer, make a decision and act totally out of structural context. 

You know this even if you have never set foot in a theatre. You have dinner for 4 prepared and your daughter walks in leading a bunch of friends. “Mom, can they stay for supper?” Of course - there is always room at the table for one or 2 or 3 or . . . more. You are ready to close a business deal. All has gone according to plan and then at the last minute one of the parties decides it is not such a good deal after all. Suddenly you become flexible - you continue to negotiate or you stand firm and the deal breaks up. But you are flexible no matter how much you have followed the structure of “the way it is done.”

So ~ My answer to the question is: I want to be flexible. Structure doesn’t always hold, human beings aren’t always predictable, and when those things occur, I want to be able to look, adjust, act on what is rather than worry about what is supposed to be.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Weber Lake, 2015

Once a year Dean's fly fishing club goes to Weber Lake for the day. Today was the day.

The day dawned beautifully behind our pines.

Weber Lake today ~ followed by

Weber Lake a year ago. What a difference a year make. Last year Weber Lake was socked in by smoke so thick that I couldn't go outside. 

Today was gorgeous and some of us who didn't fish went for a walk into the meadows surrounding the lake. 

A very tired and happy fisherman. The lake was calm, the sky was blue and Dean caught five fish.
He was happy.

We spread a table filled with food: 5 salads, 2 potato salads, baked beans and ribs. Yummy!!! After lunch, came a chocolate spread, cake, brownies, cookies and finally this amazing fish cake made by a granddaughter of one of the guys. Granddad was the only one who was willing to cut into it ~ which he finally did and we enjoyed even more chocolate. Full, happy, clean after showers, we lie back and enjoy memories of a fun day on Weber Lake. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Domestic Goddess? Me?

Never in my life have been called a Domestic Goddess. The title just does not apply. I quit cooking years ago although when I do cook, the food is good. I keep a reasonably neat house and support the local economy by hiring someone to clean it. The word "iron" is not in my vocabulary. 
However ~ I do like the taste of my own apple sauce so when John, who sells me peaches at the Farmers' Market said he had apples, I bought a crate. This morning John introduced me to another friend as a "domestic goddess". Oh, John, if you only knew. But you don't and so for this morning I will accept your title gracefully. 
I realize I posted a blog with pictures very similar to these several years ago. This year the process turned out to be somewhat different. 
First of all, John had picked really nice apples: no holes, no bugs. The crate was a mixture of Fuji, Gala and a couple of other types, making for the very best apple sauce I can make.  I had bought more sugar so I had plenty and didn't have to open the new bag as the apples were so sweet on their own. Yummy.

The next difference had to do with the pots. This year I have an invection cooktop so I found the apples cooked even faster than in the pressure cooker ~ although I used both and found the whole process including some cleaning up took just over two hours.

So there you have it. Homemade apple sauce, from the hands of a once-in-a-lifetime Domestic Goddess.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Museum at Donner Lake

One nice thing about having company is that sometimes you go places you have never been before. Yesterday we went to the Museum at Donner Lake ~ and walked on down to the lake as well. 

I know the story we all know of the Donner party: trying to get to California, caught in early, awful winter snows, several died, reports of cannibalism, all in all a horrible story. The museum is new and well done and very informative. It expanded the story of the Donner's attempt to cross the Sierra into the continuing story of transportation across the Sierra, including the saga of the Chinese workers who were so instrumental in building the transcontinental railroad. It is a very informative museum. 

Some things I didn't know:
1) the people traveling with the Donners didn't take the short cut and made it to California just fine.
2) More women than men survived because a) women have more body fat and b) women traveled with families so were always with someone rather than going off on their own like single men ~ and they were determined to stay alive to make sure their children survived.
3) The Washoe who were very helpful to many of the settlers crossing the Sierra, heard rumors of cannibalism among the Donners and kept away when they might have helped.
4) For all the first hand reports of cannibalism (in diaries and reports from rescuers), none of our modern forensic techniques have ever found traces of it.
5) Not all rescuers were humanitarian. One mother paid $500 to have her children taken to safety. The men took the money and shortly abandoned the children to die in the snow.
6) A 12-year-old girl survived and wrote to her friend, "Don't ever take no short cuts!"

To finish with just a little macabre humor: Dean and his first wife ran a T-shirt shop in Tahoe in the 70s and 80s. Their best seller was one with the above picture on it and underneath it read:
"Who's for lunch?"

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mountain Neighbors

House guest Gill has a very good camera and she is a very patient photographer. Ergo - we have some pictures of friends who play around the edges of the deck (when Oso is tired and not bothering to chase them away).

Mountain Jay. I had never seen him up close and personal enough to notice the blue stripes on his forehead.

Teeny, tiny chipmunk. There were enough of them around that I think we must have had a new birthing and they all came out on the same afternoon to explore their great new world.

Friday, September 11, 2015


As always and forever, I suppose, this day looms tall in the history of the US. One of the most impressive posts was one Linda Parker posted - a navy choir singing “There’s a Hole in the World Tonight” . . . don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow. I am reminded of the hole in my soul - and in some ways literally in my body - when Rex died. I didn’t understand why no one else could see it. I felt like it was there like a cartoon hole that can be seen straight through. And then one day I cried - hard and long - making “the noise” which rose from the bottom of my feet and soul and echoed through the house. And when that time was finally done and I had wept myself dry of tears, the hole had closed. Although it was a long journey, from that time on I began to heal, to move forward until I find myself at today ~ still remembering, still loving and still living a lovely, loving and loved life. 

Fourteen years ago there was a hole in the world. And I pray our tomorrow has come and there is no longer a hole in the world. We still remember, we still pray for lives lost and sacrificed, and we move forward as a people, as a nation. May we remember and be grateful for who we are today, for we are here. Amen. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

School Starts

For the grands school started on a variety of days in August and into September. Our second grader started the second week in August. The high schooler started the next week. Two others, living in a different city started late August. And finally Owlet and Puck started this week. Theirs are the only pictures I have to post although Grandpa and Mama Susan are very proud of all of them. 

Owlet begins 5th grade - the last grade of elementary school. We are very excited for her because our 5th grade experience was terrific and we both remember it well. Here's that it may be the same for her.

Puck is now in 8th grade - the last grade of middle school. His middle school brings in the sixth graders by themselves on day one so they are not overwhelmed by all these experienced 7th and 8th graders. 

The neighbor cat, Makai, supervises the last prep for the bus and the walk to school. Owlet's school is around the corner from Puck's bus stop so they walk most of the way together.