Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lies About Length

I know what you’re thinking. This is not how to buy lumber. This is how not to buy lumber.  If you’re a guy, you already know this. You can stop now, unless you want a good laugh. The rest of this tirade is for women who may one day find themselves in the lumber department of a home improvement store.

There is a law that says you must have truth in advertising. These guys have NOT gotten the message. They maybe have and don’t care. It’s just unbelievable no government agency hasn’t confiscated their measuring tapes. They should all be ashamed.

If you went into a yarn store and asked for 6 oz of a yarn, and they handed you a skein that said 6 oz, you can be sure you’d be getting 6 oz. If you went into a fabric store and requested 3 yards or 5 meters of a fabric, you can bet they’d give you what you asked, and possibly a tad more for good measure.
Not so in a lumberyard. Ask for 2x2s (short for 2” x 2” with varying lengths of stick) and they give you anything but. When I first built my cages to cover my vegetable beds, I used whatever was at the store, and went to the joist department to complete the (what I thought was a) good idea I had. When I got to my cabin and started cutting, I realized the joists were for 2x2s, but the wood was only 1 ½” square! What? How did this happen? I must have bought the wrong wood. Well, I would make it work, I didn’t want to drive 45 minutes back to the nearest place to get more wood. My veggies wouldn’t get planted and I wouldn’t have dinner.  Time waits for no veggie. The next day, I got busy.
Reclycling the corners and screws with new wood.

I had to make reinforced corners to fit over my ‘shoebox’ covers. The metal corners were bigger than the wood! If I made the '2x2's larger, I couldn't lift the cages up, they'd weigh a ton. When I tried to fit them together, nothing really worked. The wood was too skinny. And if I used the metal corners the way they were intended, the mice could get in underneath the base. You have to use screws that, together with the metal reinforcements, make the wood sit almost ¼” above the base of the bed. I needed the lip of the cage to be as flat as glass. If you know how little a gap mice can get through, you know what I mean. That just wouldn’t work. The mice would have a field day. I did it anyway. I didn't have time for the little details. 

The old cover in front, new one in back. 
For awhile, the mice enjoyed the bounty of my garden. Mostly it was the baby leaves they ate, and they were reasonable. I couldn't complain. Once I found a dead finch inside. I never did figure that one out. Pretty yellow feathers everywhere. 

You’d think that was the end of the story. But no. That was 3 or 4 years ago, and I needed to replace the covers I’d made. Back to Home Depot I went (Friedman’s was closed) and as I looked up at the signs to figure out which way to Oz, a guy asked if I needed help. “I need redwood 2x2s.” No problem, sucker, just follow me.  While too busy asking why they only had 3’ long pieces, I didn’t really inspect the pieces he loaded into my cart. My beds are 3’x5’ and I needed some 10’ sections too. That was good, I reasoned, I’ll have to make another stop, but I won’t have to make more than a few cuts with my rusty saw. Another stop, and by this time, I don't want any help. I just want the damn wood.  After unloading the wood, I started eyeing the small pieces. It looked rather feeble for 2x2s. I was too busy unloading in the dark, tired and hungry from a long day. 

The next morning, I grabbed my measuring tape, and, WTF? 1 ¼” square. How? How can you call them 2x2s by any stretch? So the lesson is: Don’t believe any measurement a guy gives you for ANYTHING. They exaggerate.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Quail Death

Today while sitting in my favorite chair, reading a suspenseful novel, just at the crescendo of excitement, with my nose buried in the book (Mule - at the heart of harvest season, a book on moving pot!) a loud thud levitated me off my seat by a few inches. Just behind my head, I realized a bird had hit the window. After just having taken down my summer shades, white panels that hang with suction cups, I wasn't ready for such an immediate kamikaze. Normally it's a finch. This was obviously much bigger. I grabbed my Arnica spray from the bathroom and rush out barefoot. There just off the back step, a quail moved a bit, then lay still. I picked her up, her eyes still open. Before I could spray her, her eyes closed, and she died.
Everything I need - and the fateful glass door behind me.
I wasn't ready for this. This was my first casualty. The finches always sat on my open hand for a few moments after a spray, and after fluffing their feathers, and would flit off. She was the size of a softball, round and soft and now dead. Her neck was broken. I didn't need this after yesterday. It was too much. I gently set her down in the only place I saw; a planter at my feet, white and clean and safe. I went back inside, and just sat there, my sadness growing. Normally death and dying doesn't bother me, but I had held this life while it passed, and somehow it made it different. Maybe it was the underlying sadness of losing a friend.

After standing over the planter for awhile, I realized I needed to do something. Normally if I find a dead animal, whether on the road or off, I put it somewhere that is conducive to being returned to the earth. Once my son, at maybe 5 or 6, went to the airport with me. On the lonely road to the airport, there was a dead jackrabbit in the road. We got out and looked at him. There was no blood or apparent injury, so I talked to my son about death, something he didn't understand when his grandmother passed recently. I explained the rabbit's body stayed behind, and it's spirit had gone. I set him carefully off the road, so no other animal would get run over. I thought I did a rather good job of it. One the way back, as we approached the spot we'd found him in, he got agitated, 'Maybe he's alright now!' I realized, he just wasn't ready. Maybe it was because there was no blood. Not on the rabbit, not on my bird.

As I left to walk with my neighbors (a first mushroom forage) a short time later, still contemplating how to care for this dead thing, I wandered out front to look around. There, not 4' from the front door, was a large hole. Not a gopher, probably the ground squirrel that ate all my grapes and grapevines, the calendula and hollyhock flowers. I decided here was a perfect burial spot. I tucked her gently into the hole, and apologized for not marking my windows.  RIP, my soft chubby quail, may your next life be better.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't Hide

When did I get so reactionary? I don't know, maybe it was my latest birthday. Taking stock of what I have and what I don't. I am immensely grateful for all my friends. But there is one issue with a friend I feel strongly about, and if you know me, I don't sit still until I've said my piece.

So these aren't people, but you get the general idea.
We all need people. It doesn't matter how long it takes, we all have that 'discharge' when we connect with another - like a capacitor that suddenly lets it all hang out. Skinner did those horrible tests on real kids 50 years ago (including his own daughter, poor thing) and we came to realize that when humans aren't touched or stroked (physically or mentally), they become stunted or blocked. Their higher purpose is thwarted.

You can't just decide not to connect. It's like denying your humanity. If we look at people that are really happy, what is it that makes them this way; is there a common theme with these people? I think there is, it's strong ties to one or more people. Maybe it's not love, maybe it's desire, or hate, or community. It's a connection.

Suppression is the worst way to be unhealthy. Everyone has needs. We don't live isolated in our own little boxes for a reason. To think you can do so is courting trouble; it's denying and punishing yourself.  This is especially true if you have passion. When you have a fire in your soul, it should be allowed to burn, not to be hidden or snuffed out. Opening one's heart is hard, I know. It can cause immense suffering, but also immense joy. Don't hide, come out into the world.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What We Feed Our Kids

When my son was in second grade, he managed to get a spiral fracture of his femur. The indescribable need for young boys to jump. On skis. Over nothing, over a bump, over a person, it doesn’t matter. They’ll jump just thinking about it. Needless to say, an external fixator (like a towel bar) was drilled into his remaining bone, and mom got to carry him from class to class till we finally (out of disgust) bought our own crutches for him.

Lucien doesn't need to be encouraged to eat dessert.
During this time, I was advised to carry him into the lunchroom prior to the bell ringing, or we’d be trampled. It was a boys’ school, after all. Every man for himself. It wasn’t like there wasn’t enough food, and they got a choice of anything they wanted. But these were hungry growing children, and don’t get between the fork and the mouth, for risk of losing limb.

The first few times I sat at his lunch table, I was amused. This quickly turned to concern. I sat next to an overweight child that downed 2 apple juice cans and the cream cheese off a bagel. Not the bagel, mind you, just the top. Not that the bagel would have been much better, but the apple juice sugar and yeast was enough to make me wonder how he was able to do any school work. The third or fourth day was even worse. It was ‘burrito’ day. They had wrapped Taco Bell tacos on their plates, those that chose to eat. I picked up the wrapper and read off the ingredients. The kids were all scrunching up their noses, and I think it was the first time they realized they could read the ingredients of what they ate. This was such an eye-opener for me.

At first, I was in shock. I confessed to other mothers I was not at all happy with our childrens’ lunch menu, not the least of which was the cheapest food possible, but the fact that they could choose anything they wanted (only dessert, only cookies, etc) was really upsetting. The more I looked, the worse it got. While it’s true the teachers and other moms would walk around and advise, most kids would choose a healthy looking tray, then toss anything they didn’t want before anyone was the wiser.

Not only did our children eat whatever they wanted, but they ate as much as they wanted. No one said no seconds on potato chips or cookies. Eventually the problem was rectified, but after many months (almost a year) of parents professing disbelief. The class was about 25% overweight, and we moms actually counted the kids we thought overweight as they jogged around the gym perimeter. We came up with 10 out of 40. It was a horrible feeling.

Here we were paying an astronomical figure for a year of  private school, dressing them in expensive clothes, driving them to school in expensive cars, tutoring them in languages of our choosing, raising money for special programs, and dumping the most hideous foods into their bodies. Our precious children, eating so poorly turned my stomach.

After making an appointment with the headmaster, I made up a list of things I wanted to talk to him about, among them the need to teach these boys about nutrition. I mentioned the East Bay school district (PUBLIC school!) doing a great job with Alice Waters - why couldn’t we do that? After all, our kids were worth it too. All I got was a blank look. "Where do you think I could put that in the curriculum?" he asked. "There isn’t any time to teach that." He was obviously obstructionist. He wanted no part of the dialog. I was shut down from the moment I walked in. I had even mentioned the girls' schools teach this stuff in third grade, why couldn't we teach it too? And about how the roof, it would be perfect for growing some plants - lettuce and science experiments, and art class drawing the delicate leaves…there were so many options besides just eating the healthy produce!

Fresh from the garden
As I rose to leave, he asked me to leave my notes. I wondered, ‘why bother?’ He seemed to be completely closed off the idea. Now my son is finishing his second year at college, and I got a call last fall from another mom. She said she just thought I might want to know that the school did end up setting up a healthy system, but they waited till our kids were gone. It’s sad people aren’t more open minded, it really doesn’t matter to me who came up with the idea, it benefits everyone. We are all connected.

Some ways we thought would be better:
1. Grow plants to eat: Start simple, with fast growing foods. Lettuce, arugula, flowers (edible?). There are so many ways to use them as a learning tool. Have the science class germinate them in different conditions. Give them different light sources. Let the art class draw them in different stages of growth. Outside light, inside light. Paint, pencil, charcoal. Talk about soil and it’s importance to the plant, much like fuel in the human being food. How the quality of food makes a difference to the plant.

2. Have a system of dots on the food: Green dots mean you can have as many as you like, yellow means just one or two. Red means you get only one of these, and that’s it. You can’t have 2 red dots on your tray, but you can have 2 yellow. Potato chips and cookies are examples of red dots. This way kids get to know what food is unhealthy in large quantities from kindergarten.

3. Teach the kids in the first 3 years what nutrition means. Calories, protein, fat, carbs. Sugar and its problems, disease you might get from eating poorly. What a healthy body looks like. Activity and why it’s good for you, and what fuels it. Most schools probably already do something like this, but to have the girls’ schools do it and not ours, you have to wonder about sexism!

4. Have a person assigned, possible surreptitiously, to keep an eye on the eating habits of the kids. If they take a healthy tray, it doesn’t mean they’re eating it. Watch for kids that consume other kids’ leftovers, throw away good food, and don’t eat well, and I guarantee you’ll find a child with attention problems, performance problems, or social problems in school. We don’t eat in a vacuum, it reflects in everything we do.

Twenty years ago doctors didn’t believe food made a difference in our health. How wrong they were!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sitting With Being Down

What do you do when you're down? What brings you back, a smile on your face? I'm still looking today. Maybe it's the temperature reaching 100 as well as all the other myriad problems. If I can't find some solace here in this Eden, I don't think I'll find it anywhere. A sadness has taken hold, and I'll just have to sit with it.

The Moon's Bellybutton
The last few nights, I've been experimenting with photographing the moon with my camera, through the viewfinder of my telescope. It's amazing how much detail is there. I am intrigued with the ridge. I've named it 'The Moon's Bellybutton.' It cheered me up for a little while. I shared it with some friends.

Splash is hurt. He limped past my door sometime in August, and a few days ago, in the near 100 degree heat, he was standing in full sun, in the middle of the road. He's a beautiful horse, and it was sad to see him inching off the road, as if to say, 'is this far enough?' This morning I met another neighbor from down the ridge. She was out walking like me (but only one of us was in pajama shorts). I was on my way home from dogsit feeding. Feeding sat dogs? Feeding sit dogs? I fed the darn dogs this morning and was on my way home with a few lemon cucumbers that jumped off the vine at me while I was checking the vegetable beds. I figured they could be my lunch, along with the kale salad I made yesterday. Where was I? Oh, yes. She said she and her husband had seen him (she calls him Oreo, very appropriate as well) coming up the hill to their house, and had the same experience.

They hadn't noticed his limp, but they wouldn't have looked. It took him a long time to move off the road, since there wasn't any room on either side. I did see him a few nights ago, but had Rio in the car. Rio would have harassed him, so I didn't stop; he was like a ghost, I wasn't really sure it was him anyhow, it may have been Raven.

This morning I packed an apple full of homeopathic remedies, stuffed into the core, and replaced the piece I'd dug out. I set it on the tree stump close to the top of my neighbor's driveway on the way down to feed the dogs, around 8:30am. There's a ridge where they often catch the breeze when it's hot. They're not usually there in the morning. But in the evenings, it's like you've seen in the movies, the way you usually imagine wild horses; there are the 5 boys standing with the breeze blowing through their manes and tails, while they face the sunset, it's very beautiful. But he wasn't there, none of them were there.

 I just came back to feed the dogs at 6pm and it's still there. Bright red pink lady. At least the deer and squirrels haven't taken it. Hope he finds it and eats it. They don't eat from us, and I think they give me a wide berth since I tried to give them arugula. I have since tried to make it up with apples and carrots, but the carrots stay put, and only the apples disappear. Don't know what animal ate them, I can only hope Splash gets his medicine. Thanks to all the friends that helped me figure it out. Splash doesn't know how lucky he is.

Halfway down my driveway
My Meyer lemon tree in the green house has leaves the size of my hand and larger. I let the clover get out of hand, and now the thing isn't producing any blossoms. Today I see ants all over it, and realize it's got bugs. As if that weren't bad enough, there are tent caterpillars everywhere this year. Really ugly looking blights, and if you get close, there are more than a few hungry munching machines inside that tent. It must be a periodic thing - hopefully only once in my lifetime. Thankfully the gophers have given up. I was getting tired of peeing in the holes when it's so hot outside.

Out at the bird feeder there was a lot of commotion this evening. I heard it for over 30 minutes. Couldn't figure out what it was all about; there were only 3 birds at the feeder, and one of them, from my upstairs loft, appeared to be either stuck to the tape on the screw substituting for a perch, or had some kind of wing problem. Hauling myself off my yoga mat (I was just staring out the window, I have to be honest), I went down there and the finches flew into the oak tree above. The darn thing was still chirping away insistently, sticking next to another finch that had been at the feeder. I asked what seemed to be the problem, but the finch just kept flapping away making a loud racket. Finally I saw what was going on - it was a fledgling wanting food from its parent. I never will understand how the fledgling gets bigger than the parent and still gets food. Oh, wait...I have one of those!

Still morose, and not feeling like cleaning up, I did some reading and took a shower. Didn't help. Maybe I'll find something to do tomorrow that will cheer me up. Yes, I know...Caddyshack. Maybe it will make me laugh. Maybe it will make me cry. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

STR Drive

What can you say? This is halfway up the 1/2 mile driveway. I always stop and look.

Eat Your Veggies!

There is just about nothing in veggies that isn’t good for you. Raw, that is. If you have digestive trouble, it may be caused by myriad things, or just one. It doesn’t matter. Get out the cutting board and a knife or mandolin. Start with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. Add some basil or cilantro or parsley (all three would be best). A little sea salt and maybe a pinch of pepper. Dash of oil and vinegar, or just vinegar if you’re feeling like you need a little zing.
Fresh food from the garden! Bowl by Paula Moran
When you shop in the grocery store, remember what you went in to get. Don’t buy the stuff in boxes with all the packaging and additives. Think about it. You’re paying for garbage. You don’t want the cardboard, and you don’t want your insides to look like cardboard. Get fresh. You’ll feel so much better. If you need energy for exercise, or energy for mental tasks, your body works best on things that give you clean energy, vital fluids, and organic live enzymes.

If you’re buying food grown in poor soil, or food that comes from plants grown in sterile ground, you don’t get trace minerals if they aren’t there in the first place. There’s no fusion there, so if it doesn’t have those minerals, there is no way to magically get them into the veggie without them being in the soil. Think about it. Plants can be fed to fruit – to flower and thus be harvested. But that’s like putting gas in a diesel engine. Like putting dirty clothes in the washer with no soap and expecting them to come out clean. OK, you got me there, I have done that.

If you are going to eat, you should make every bite count. Make it healthy. Make it vital.
Although I like to buy everything organic, I can’t find organic sometimes. If I can’t, and it’s on the Clean Fifteen list, I will buy it. Not so with the Dirty Dozen. I change the menu. Here’s the list (from EWG – Environmental Working Group):

Dirty Dozen:
1.       Celery
2.       Peaches
3.       Strawberries
4.       Apples
5.       Blueberries
6.       Nectarines
7.       Bell peppers
8.       Spinach
9.       Cherries
10.   Kale/collard greens
11.   Potatoes
12.   Grapes (imported)

Clean Fifteen:
1.       Onions
2.       Avocado
3.       Sweet corn
4.       Pineapple
5.       Mangoes
6.       Sweet peas
7.       Asparagus
8.       Kiwifruit
9.       Cabbage
10.   Eggplant
11.   Cantaloupe
12.   Watermelon
13.   Grapefruit
14.   Sweet potatoes
15.   Honeydew melon

So why would I buy something organic from the list below? Because I also want to consider the workers and the soil they’re grown in. Do we harm others with growing with pesticides? Yes, it’s not always about what I’m putting in my mouth. It’s what else was impacted by my buying the item. Do the banana bags laden with pesticides end up in the river? Do the growers have to wear masks? Then it’s organic for me. We all should be thinking about the consequences of our actions as much as we can.

Eating seasonally and locally helps that too. Imagine planting a lovely sage in your backyard. It’s cold and wet. Sage doesn’t like it. It doesn’t grow well. It wants more sun and less water. It’s not happy, it’s not healthy. It gets bugs. It rots, and dies.  Eat food that’s happy where it’s grown, and not picked before it is ripe and trucked or flown hundreds or thousands of miles.  It’s more vital, and it will feel better when you eat it. I won’t go into the idea of planting when the moon is waxing and harvesting when it wanes, but cycles are important to our bodies, in the same way we wake in the morning and sleep at night.

Taken with my camera through the telescope!

Sorry, shift workers, you tend to have your own special problems that are not just physical. Shift working (Nurses Study) showed that working opposite this impacted people far more than just having your body working opposite the normal cycle. It also affects socialization, communication, depression, and a whole host of other processes, not just metabolism.

When I get up at my cabin north of Willits, I walk outside and pick fresh blueberries. Then I saunter (depending on what I’m wearing) down to the vegetable beds and check for any fresh strawberries. If there aren’t any, I may have a cherry tomato or two. Lunch can be a cucumber salad, or tabouli, with fresh parsley and tomato, with lemon juice from freshly picked lemons. With weather in the 90’s lately, I rarely turn on the stove (I may grill something outside), so an enormous salad with feta cheese and kalamata olives hits the spot. I walk around the house visiting various herbs for a snip of this or that. Parsley, cilantro, fennel, sage, marjoram, thyme, sorrel (yum) all go into my salads. I think tonight it'll be kale salad with lemon and feta and pine nuts. I find that there is no slowing me down when I eat like this.   

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wildlife in Mendocino County

Taking in the wildlife here has always been my favorite thing to do. There is always some animal, vegetable, or mineral that fascinates me. Here is a collection of some wildlife and...'dead' things too.                                                        
This is a salmonid (sal-MON-id). We have the last wild run of coho salmon in the state. We've tried to help them recover by shading the river to keep the water temp down by planting willow. The biggest problem is water hauling, where trucks back up to the river and load up their trucks. The flows decline and water gets warmer. Then there are the bullfrog tadpoles. They're like hungry black tennis balls. But slimy.

This monster is the biggest praying mantis I've ever seen. Godzilla size. It was as big as a Cadillac. OK, maybe 6"? It sat on the ground just over the edge of the porch, and at the entrance to a hive of ground-dwelling bees. As the bees came up from the hole, this mantis would grab them quickly with a front limb, and bite its head off. Maybe grab two, eating one while the other one struggled. Creepy. 

These guys were just jumping for joy, what can you say? They just are so happy to be alive. Actually, it's a mini-trampoline I built for them, and they jump on it all day long.

Again, lies! They love to sit on the screen when the door's open and catch a breeze, it's so lovely. Sometimes I tickle their toes. I love the blue bellies. Sometimes they chase each other but it's too hot and eventually they just stop and catch the breeze.

I also wonder if maybe they're up there to avoid being eaten by Mr. Kingsnake. 

The boys hangin' out. There are 5 in this picture, but one took off. We don't know where, but he came back for a bit, everyone was happy to see him, and then he took off again. Geldings, so don't go there. Rio will sit peaceably with them until someone catches him doing so. Then he'll bark at them as if they're a threat. He doesn't fool us. Last week two of them crossed in front of my open doors at 6:30am and scared me half to death. I thought it was a bear. If I had made any noise, they would have bolted. I wish there was some clover for them, but it's all dried up. They go down to the pond for water.

This is my boy Rio. Not mine, really, but mine anyway. I love him. He's so sweet. He's wearing the sweater I knit for him. He said he really likes it. But only when it's really cold out. He also said it's a little itchy but he likes it 'cause I made it. And maybe also because I always give him biscuits. He rolls over for me whenever he wants one. Also for salmon skin, leftover meat, salad, veggies, just about anything edible. Or inedible. Occasionally I'll be working outside and have caught him chewing on a deer leg. The hoof will be sticking up in the air over his head. He didn't kill the deer, they're really old bones, but he likes them anyway. He doesn't get to kiss me after that. 

He's had some arthur-itis lately. May be Lyme Disease. He's gotten a remedy or two, we'll see how he does.

These two little babies were found hopping around the back of the house, almost were dinner for Mr. Kingsnake. The moms were very upset. But maybe it was a dad and mom, and they were siblings. I couldn't tell, but every time I put one of them in the nest I concocted, the other would flop out, a 10' drop. Eventually I settled on my wooden salad bowl, and the sides are too slippery, they couldn't get out. I left them on top of the ladder on the porch (so no other critters could get to them). I left a note in case CalFire came to check my fire abatement work. When I came back, they'd fledged. They were so cute. 

They'd screech if I picked them up, but once I closed my hand around them, they were happy. I sprayed this one with Arnica because I thought she must have fallen out of the nest. Then I found the nest on the ground, and realized both babies probably fell from some height. 

The parents get lots of bird food. I wonder if I'm not messing with the population, feeding them all the nijer seed. Finch-pigs. Pig-finches? They are ravenous, but I love to hear their little tiffs about who gets what perch.

I think these are Swifts. Not sure. They've got a crest across their chests, and come to check out the insect population on my front meadow. I don't see them very often. I've seen Mergansers, though, playing with the bullfrog tadpoles. Now that I'd love to get on video. It's like a cat playing with a mouse. Then all of the sudden, it throws the tadpole in the air and swallows it, like a kid catching peanuts. 

This poor baby had a run-in with the garage. Not sure how. Maybe trying to get in the small windows? Such pretty colors. The ants hadn't come to deconstruct yet. Every once in awhile I hear a thud and check for birds outside the house, with my trusty Arnica spray in hand. Often they're fine and I don't even see them. 

Not sure how I got so many quail in one picture without one head showing. I guess they got some good eats. They're like little round footballs. They certainly look well fed. Maybe it's all the compost I bury. I bury it in the open so the bear won't get it. Someday in a few decades, I may have better soil, but now it's mostly clay.

These toms really are teenagers. They act just like kids at recess. In this picture, though, they saw a hen coming their way. They perked up immediately and stopped the shenanigans. She paid no attention, and went on her way. 

I hope these weren't the guys that slept in my lavender and oregano. They really destroyed my plants. It wasn't all bad, they left some fertilizer.

This baby is just amazing. It's wingspan was about 5" and it has a face that will give you nightmares. It's called  Cecropia moth, normal range is only west to the Rockies, certainly not all the way out in California. Hyalophora cecropia. What a beauty. 

Well, that's it for now. I have to find my camera again. So many things at which to marvel. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

So I Was Wrong

So I was wrong after all. It wasn't the pollen. It was 95 degrees F (35C) every single day for a week. The series wiring of the solar panels indicated only half the panels were powering the system off and on during the hottest part of the day. I flipped all the switches off and all back on again, et voila! power to the batteries once more. The insulation on the wiring must be melting on the roof inside the conduit.

Satan's Bolete (poisonous!)
I noticed today while folding laundry how many of my pieces of clothing have battery acid holes in them. My Jost Van Dyke dress from Foxy's (BVI) has a hole in the most embarrassing place. I moved a pocket on a pair of pants. Many of my towels look like someone neatly cut holes in them. A shirt I wore Tuesday to clinic has a little eye-shaped hole right near the hem. Most of them have been tossed, so I don't get sad when I see them. Others stay in the drawers in the cabin so I can still enjoy them, even if I can't wear them in public.

A few weeks ago I took a hike in my pajama shorts and a T. I rarely see anyone up on the roads, and the construction work is done. You can hear a car pretty far away, so I'm usually safe. Flip-flops are fine unless we go down the back side of the ridge, Fawn Rd. That's bear country, and feral pig country, and all the other countries. If you need to run, you want shoes. Although, I think bears, mountain lions, and feral pigs can all run faster than me in my trail shoes. Mushroom country, par excellance. Don't have to run from them! Coffee cup in hand, Rio and I took it all in.

These are Coccora mushrooms - they grow like hard boiled eggs until they get too big. Then they sprout up to tall tan stipes with dried egg white on their caps. My sister Ronalee and I had a huge haul. Delicious when sauteed in butter or oil and garlic. Bad year for them last year, and King Boletes too. Good for Chanterelles and Black Trumpets. Puffballs came and went and we didn't notice them till too late.

Psilocybe (sil-AH-so-bee). Bought a Psilocybe book and my son finally found it..."MOM!!" Hey, I'm just lookin'!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taking A Walk

I woke up this morning realizing I hadn’t turned the hot water heater off its vacation setting. It’s been 90° out every day, so by the time I take a shower around 5 or 6pm, it’s plenty hot. The problem is that the pump runs all night to keep the temperature balanced between the roof and tank when it's on vacation setting. But remembering the kingsnake back there by the pump made me reluctant to go find a flashlight and change the setting. So hopping out of bed in the morning, I headed out back in my underclothes. It’s too hot to sleep in much during the summer, and I think I may need a ceiling fan soon. The adobe floor keeps it cool, but circulation when the air is still would help. I situated the house so I can take advantage of the Bernoulli effect. 

Next, up on the roof. I couldn’t figure out why the batteries weren’t fully charged with such long days. I saw the daily kWh on the meter was only 1.7kWh, normally 3.0 this time of the year. When I looked at other parameters, I saw at 2pm yesterday that the voltage coming into the system was only 75 at 3 amps. Checking the battery charger, it followed the 24v system had 9v going in. Which meant it had to be the panels. I remembered (and should have written it down) that the voltage from the panels is usually about 87, or something like that, in full sun. Yesterday was too hot, and the roof even more so. I have to hoist myself from the porch roof to the house roof, and it’s about chest height. Invariably I end up with scratch marks on my belly from either going up or coming down.

This morning I didn’t bring my cell. I was in my pjs, after all. Nowhere to stow it. I usually bring it because if I knock the ladder down, I will have a way to call someone to come help me. Just a thought; put a rope around the top of the ladder, and tie it to the porch roof! Otherwise, I’d probably break a leg trying to get down. Up I went, while the coffee water was heating up. Of course! There was pollen all over the panels. DOH! Down I went, grab a mop, spray with water, clean the panels, and voila! 87volts again! I love it when that happens.

Sunset, same vista
Next, over to friends’ house to pick up Rio. My sweetie. He’s always happy to see me. They leave him in the pen till I get here and we walk back together. He’s such a great protector, even when you don’t need it. Yesterday, on a walk down to the river to check out the new graded road, I kept hearing rustling in the hill above us, about 50’ away. Rio stopped, so did I. I put my arm on my friend’s arm, and looked in the direction of the noise. I could see the brown shape, still making noise. It was Baby Bear! She’d been spotted in the area, and I had small bite marks in my plastic soil bag in the last month. The plastic shows a good impression of the size and tooth development, one bite slightly larger than the first; the earlier one had no toothmarks! For some reason, the bears like to bite the bag. A few times it’s been claws ripping it open, when it’s on the ground.

Rio started barking at her, and ran at her. We turned around and hightailed it back up the hill, all the while calling Rio. He finally came, thank goodness. I didn't remember till later I wolf whistled for him, he knows my call. He came running. Normally he’d have a shock collar on so he doesn’t harass the wild horses. This is a necessary evil, as he’s been kicked numerous times, and the last time had a $600 gash in his side, skin flapping loosely from it. Today we’d been planning on a swim, and knowing he’d be first in the water, it wasn’t feasible.  

Of course, my bear spray, normally always in my backpack (I think more because I’m afraid of the feral pigs) was on the counter, acting as a bookmark. It all turned out well though. The only need for it would have been if the dog and bear had engaged. Thankfully it didn’t happen. And I didn't lose my place in my book. 

As I left the house, walking up the drive, I heard woodpeckers nearby. I stopped to listen (and check my pulse! Normally 55 or so, it shoots up to 160 going up the drive because I walk fast). It sure sounded like Morse code. It really did. The eerie thing was that within 30 seconds, a second woodpecker answered only 50’ away. They conversed for a few minutes. It was very funny. Time to head back now, it’s 77 and only 10am!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

STR  (Swallowtail Ranch) Berries 

Swallow Tail Revisited
The last time I wrote a blog, I let it sit in my computer for a month before I finally got around to posting it today. In the meantime, so much has happened. I realized I can post PICTURES. I posted one of the many I take from my door, taken May 15th of this year for my last blog. It snowed about an inch. Yes, in the middle of May. Amazing!

Today, I had some wonderful things happen too. I found all my strawberries were huge and ripe AT THE SAME TIME and that no mice had eaten anything. I think the holes in the hardware cloth are too small for banana slugs, which I’ve only seen this year, twice. The second wonderful thing was that my carrots were perfect. They are sweet and huge, and perfectly formed,  if you count looking like they have two legs. That’s OK, they taste great. Well, they’d taste even better if they were grown outside. But for some reason, they don’t grow outside. They either get eaten by the mice before they get a second set of petals, or they never thrive. So they grow in two big tubs in the greenhouse.

Since I’m dogsitting today, I brought my stuff to my neighbor’s house and realized I’d forgotten something. I took one of the dogs for a nice long walk back to my house and picked it up; it only took 2 hours. We had to stop and look at a dead snake along the way. The snake I’ll hopefully remember to post the picture with this post. At first, coming upon it in the road, it looked like something I’d never seen before. It was like a San Francisco-style tiled bathroom, black and white. I thought, ‘a new snake, I can name it!’ Of course, Tile snake would have been my choice. Unfortunately, when I rolled it over, I discovered it was a king snake, with half the body missing
Half a dead kingsnake, upside down
. Normally they're brown and white and black on the top. Who knew they were ‘tiled’ on the underside?

Driving up the windy road to get to my place last year, I saw a crow carrying a live king in its beak, and the snake was at least 3’ long. Stopping the car to watch, he started picking at it immediately. How the mighty have fallen! We are so careful to avoid the rattlesnake, welcome the king, and curse the crow for different reasons. But they’re all connected by the food chain. Once I grabbed my camera and ran out the sliding glass doors to my house, intending to catch the large king slithering across the front yard. In my haste, I neglected to slide the door shut. Of course, the king decided to visit my cabin.

Which reminded me of the time we lost our boa. We couldn’t find it anywhere. Our apartment in college had a screened-in porch and our friends wouldn’t come to visit unless they could see Euripides in the enclosure. But on any given day, he could be found around the house. When I studied, I’d sit at the dining room table. He’d happily wrap himself around me, and sit with his head on top of mine. So he wasn’t affectionate like a dog, but I could tell he cared. One day, friends were coming over and we couldn’t find him. We looked everywhere. Flashes of snakes coming out of toilets crossed my mind. I searched every room, knowing a snake that big couldn’t just disappear, he was huge.  As I lay in bed that night, I kept thinking about where I hadn’t looked. Where could he be? You can’t hide a snake that big. What made me think of it, I don’t know. I jumped out of bed and lifted the mattress. There he was, comfortably coiled up at the head of our bed. Our pillows masked the telltale lump that would have shown up otherwise. But Mr. King decided he didn’t like the cold floor so much, and slithered back out to the garden, where he lost himself in the lamb’s ears and lavender.  That’s the last time I ever left the door open while I ran out.

What? WHAT? Do I have something on my face?
Once in camp, I remember finding a dead snake I carried around for days. It was soft and silvery, like mercury. It was so pretty, about 8” long. I didn’t show it to anyone, in fear they’d make me throw it away. I’d just take it out and admire it from time to time.

This isn’t what I started out to write about, but there it is. When I sit down to write, it often occurs to me that writing blogs is so self-centered. Talking about oneself is rather vain, and it seems like you’re pointing to yourself and saying, ‘look at me.’ So as much as I chastise myself for not posting more, I’m battling the feeling of vanity.

As I wrote the previous blog, I got about halfway across my field of vision, to my vegetable beds, which face south. I wrote of my view from east to south, so I should continue the journey, I think. The broad expanse of meadow in front of me is often taken over by various animals at different times of the day, and during different seasons. Sometimes, and most often, it’s deer. Many times during the day, off and on, different species of birds comb the grasses for insects and seeds. We have quail that look like little footballs, which have now taken to nesting in the oak branches that never got cut. The chainsaw has remained stored in the garage, out of the rain. Again, rain stops my outside activity. The grass has grown 3’ since I last whacked it. I’m getting burrs on my pants  (OK, pajama pants). Nothing like turning over in bed an landing on a burr. Or doing your laundry and ending up with burrs in your underthings, which is always the case. They seem to have DNA that leads them to imbed themselves on things that stay warm and close to human bodies.

Ronalee's Sage broken by gophers!
The gophers have really done a number on the front yard in the last month. Holes everywhere, deep under the house. This is what first drew me to try to eliminate them from the immediate area around the house. I stuck a piece of rebar over 4’ down into a whole behind my grapevines. One, a California red grapevine, is in a gopher cage, the other a Concord, is not. For some reason, they haven’t touched them. This is shocking. They ate my sage, they ate the miner’s lettuce, they ate the tulips, the hollyhock, the ceanothus. Last year the grapes sat there without being touched by the gopher or the birds. I have to wonder what’s wrong with them. Or what’s wrong with the grapes? Even the bear, leaving a few muddy prints on the siding next to the front door (he always comes to the front door, never the sliding glass doors), with blueberry bushes a foot from the door, untouched! I’m not complaining, mind you, just shocked. Since I rescued the baby finches, they've left their marks on the teak charis on the porch. It won't be long before they find the berries. They come for water after the drip system has run, when the afternoon shade has spread and the heat has been swept away on the breeze. I guess it's OK, as long as I feed them seed, they'll leave me some berries.

cream-colored California Poppies

Of course, we did have 95° weather here after the snow, so the berries got a little dried out. They look rather shriveled. I’ll have to reinstall the drip system. Another task on my to-do list. And in case you’re wondering, the second dog is a nearly blind dachshund that won’t budge unless you give her treats. It would have been three hours there and back if she’d come along. Coyote bait!

SwallowTail Ranch

Here I sit at the computer on the kitchen island in my cabin. It’s been raining for 5 days straight, with no break in sight. I think of all the things I need to get done, and get antsy to go outside. The only break was Thursday for about an hour. I ran out, intending to cut up a few large oak branches trimmed from over the solar panels on the roof, but don’t want to make so much noise with the baby finches nesting over my front door, close to the branches. As I face south, I see to my left, the front door and my porch, facing east. The beautiful oaks and the distant mountains give me a long distance view that is calming. Sometimes I catch wildlife creeping up over the hill to munch on the wild clover or bugs on my front hillside. They don’t seem to be fazed by me, even when I move. But noise will send them racing away. Occasionally I hear a thump, and run to the door, expecting to see a finch on its back. Often they fly on, but sometimes I must spray them with Arnica in water, and they soon are back on the wing.

This is my fault. I meant to move the finch feeder onto the porch to keep the bear from eating the seeds. I thought also, it would keep the food dry. Instead, I hear that sickening thud every day, maybe twice.  The thought also crossed my mind that the mother finch feeding her babies would have less distance to travel to get her own sustenance. I hear their little peeps when I approach the front door, but they become quiet when I make any noise. It takes every ounce of restraint to not get the ladder and peek into their I-beam home.

The finches have presented another problem, with their new feeder position on the porch. Every time I walk by the windows or front door, they scatter. And they scatter seed, as well, all over the porch, and on the furniture. Not that I mind, but it is very attractive to the bears. I’ve already seen 3 large plops of bear scat (and I’m sorry, but scat makes it sound little, or light - not so! Huge and heavy this time of the year). One was in the driveway, just past the front door. This done in full view of my door, and he obviously felt comfortable enough to do so the first time, with my windows and doors open a few weeks ago. His meal for that visit was Manzanita berries growing just behind the house. He’s never been so bold before. Usually his visits are obvious only when I return. He especially likes to open bags of soil for me. Once there was a bite mark in a bag sitting about 2 or 3’ off the ground. The top had perfect puncture marks from his upper jaw, and the bottom had the tiny jaw marks of the lower. Now I wish I’d taken a picture.

The bear has learned that if he swats at the motion sensor for the flood light when he visits at night, it doesn’t come on. This may be a coincidence, but I wonder. Often when I come up here, I see the only thing moved is the sensor and the bird feeder a foot away; light fixture and solar panel are still exactly where I left them, pointing in the proper direction to light my way from the greenhouse to the front porch.

Of course, the finches’ home also precludes me from having a fire in my brass fireplace on the porch. The smoke rises, as does the heat, and seeking the highest point, in the endcap of the porch; she and her offspring would be very unhappy with me. So I bide my time, freezing inside, with no sun to warm the adobe floor, and not wanting to use the radiant heat this late in the week. The thermal water heater on the roof isn’t warm enough (no sun for that either) to warm the water for the floor either, I’ll just wear thick socks and wrap myself in my home-spun blanket if I get cold.

It is cold, too cold to spin. My fingers are a little stiff unless I’m typing or knitting, or maybe cooking. I hold my morning coffee with both hands, not my usual mode. It occurs to me I like to see how far I can take myself, out of my comfort zone. Here it is June, and we still are looking at low 50’s during the day, less than 40° at night.  One can try to imagine the annoying heat of 100° weather coming in a few months, but it doesn’t really help now.

With the passive solar design of the house, in the winter, when the sun is low, the house gets plenty of sun (low on the horizon) into the large sliding glass doors facing south. It hit’s the floor, a thermal brown mass (adobe) and retains the heat until the air inside cools down, then radiates warmth at a constant rate. During the summer, the sun rises almost perfectly through the east-facing front door, shaded at the far end of the porch with a bamboo shade, and heads directly over the roof, so no sun comes in the windows. This keeps the house cool, and screens all the way around allow a breeze from the cooler valley below, to keep things moving.

This house was well designed, but not appreciated right away. As I’ve come to realize, it took a lot of forethought to design it in this way, but all I saw was the leaks in the roof. I should have known, when the contractor gave me a case of huge tubes of caulk, there was something amiss. I’m still waiting for him to fix it, five years on. But I’m grateful for the security and safety it affords, and the peaceful landscape and beautiful views I enjoy. But hey, let’s warm it up a little.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Good Sleep

There’s nothing like crawling in between two cool sheets and falling into blissful slumber. Maybe it’s been easy for me because I keep so busy during the day that it’s never been a problem. I feel for those that have trouble.  There are many things you can do to improve sleep. No, not smoking pot!

Let’s start with the environment: Cold dark room is most important. Keep the activity nice and slow at least a few hours prior to turning off the light. Exercise is not a good idea before turning in. No housecleaning or cocktails at lights out time.

Some people may be able to fall asleep with noise, but some seem to wake with every little sound. Others sleep through all kinds of noise. Much has to do with your central nervous system (CNS). If you’re primed to jump, if your CNS is on edge, your sleep won’t be restful. Make sure there are no electric appliances or wiring that run within 3’ of your head. This can mean taking a gauss meter to the walls near your bed. This may not be affecting your sleep, but it most certainly can affect your health. Remember you spend around 8 hours in this environment, it should be healthy. If you’re sensitive to chemicals, organic sheets and non-toxic detergent are a must. Of course, be sure to choose a mattress and support that is conducive to your comfort. For many years I thought I liked a hard mattress, only to find when I traveled, I slept more soundly and woke feeling better with a softer mattress. Essential oils may be soothing. Lavender should not be used with young boys, so keep it away from the children, it affects hormones.

Light is very important to eliminate at night. Research has shown that light shown on the small area in the hollow of the knee on sleeping subjects decreases the level of melatonin, the hormone that puts us to sleep and keeps us there. So don’t think a mask is helping, it’s just one small part of the problem.  Our levels of cortisol have something to say about our sleep as well. The higher the level of cortisol, the more melatonin we need to sleep. Where the rise in melatonin crosses the decrease in cortisol is where we fall asleep, conversely, the rise in cortisol crossing the decrease in melatonin is where we wake. Hopefully these will be in the proper settings, when we’re expecting it. If you have high levels of stress, some extra melatonin may do the trick. When first marketed, manufacturers used 3 and 5 milligram doses, much too high for most users. Now it is available in 1 or 3mg doses, and in liquid. Try ¼ mg to start. Most early users complained about vivid dreams and groggy mornings. They were taking too much, or not allowing a full 8 hours for sleep. Don’t expect to wake rested if you take melatonin and allow 4 hours to sleep. Your body doesn’t like shortcuts!

Next, let’s look at food and drink. As we get older, we have less room to store liquids. Once I had a hitch in my hip, and went to see a rolfer. An unintended consequence was that I no longer got up at some point in the night to use the bathroom. That was over two years ago. Not drinking water after a certain time doesn’t work for me; if I’m thirsty, I drink. Some people swear no water after 6pm works. Food can sometimes also have an effect on sleep. If you have acid reflux, when you lie down you may have an esophageal sphincter that is relaxed, allowing acid to seep into the throat. This can possibly cause problems with the esophagus or larynx down the line, not to mention disrupting sleep. What foods can cause this problem? Many sources say peppermint, chocolate, coffee, fried foods, and other items should be avoided. Some problems have more to do with digestion than acid reflux; your body doesn’t want to be digesting food when you’re going to bed. Many can’t digest fats on a good day! If you have this problem, often bitter foods can help the bile flow, getting digestive juices flowing to enhance the absorption of your food. And if you’ve had your gallbladder out, you need bile acids! Don’t let this one go. Your body had a gallbladder for a reason, it’s not expendable.

Your immune system is most active at night while you’re sleeping. That’s why we often see people with poor immune response that don’t sleep well. The cause can be lack of sound sleep. Also, if you take calcium, it should be taken at night, when your body uses it. Calcium circulating in the blood is not where you want it, which is what happens when you take it during the day. Sometimes it ends up in your blood vessels, creating – guess what – hardening of the arteries. Your body may excrete it, and is not beneficial to your bones and teeth.

Say you have all of the above problems under control and your sleep is still bad. Do you lie awake at night and can’t fall asleep? Do you wake during the night and are unable to fall back to sleep due to thoughts? What about waking – you hide your head under the pillow hoping the light and alarm will go away? These are probably symptoms of anxiety. Think about why you are having this problem. Think of a solution to what is causing the anxiety. See if that helps; if not, try writing before bed. I’m not a writer (OK, I do try), but I have read enough about anxiety to know that it can help.

Do you have dreams or nightmares? Sometimes they can indicate what is going on upstairs. Do you have dreams of being pursued? This is often a fear that something bad will happen. In homeopathy, there are many remedies associated with particular dreams. You may think your problems are unique, but a quick look at the repertory will surprise you. I’ve heard stories that help point out the correct remedy, or confirm my choice when I’m not sure.

Homeopathy can help most of these problems people have with sleep. I’ve seen sleep improve with the first remedy quite often. Of course, some of the work I do is with homeless people, and it is a difficult road. These are people that must sleep with lights on, or uncomfortable cots, people making noise, snoring, or they may be having CNS hyperactivity, a feeling of not being safe when trying to sleep. This is so very important for many, as a lack of sleep can cause psychotic behavior in the most stable person.

If you’ve had bad sleep, now’s the time to figure out why. Sleep is so important to your health. Once it is good, you’ve unlocked the door to better health. Work on that now, saw those logs! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

YOUR Health

Recently I was reading about the pharmaceutical industry’s record profits (we’ll talk about the oil industry another time). Let’s simplify things a little, and look at what’s going on. If we look at the health/medical/pharmaceutical industry and the American people’s money as a pool of money divided up from a pie, we can keep it simple. If we pay our doctors directly, we eliminate the huge cut the middleman takes away. That means the managed care system doesn’t get paid. Hmmm…that means a lot more saved by the patient, and more profit for the doctor. Doctors have been found taking handouts (and bribes) from these companies to push their drugs.  Big pharma contributes more to state and federal elections than any other industry. That should tell you something, don’t trust them!

Think about the pharmaceutical companies. They put more money into advertising than R&D. The US and New Zealand are the only countries that allow direct advertising to the patient. Does that make sense? You’re paying for them to sell you something. No thanks. I think I’ll just use natural remedies. It’s a heck of a lot better on the environment. We won’t pollute all our waterways with antidepressants, keep our frogs male and female, thankyouverymuch. We will be able to eat the fish!

Look at all those insurance companies. All that money has come from OUR pie, the one that used to be shared between doctor and patient. The doctors get paid less, the patients pay more. Why does that make sense? All those buildings, salaries, paperwork, meetings, phone calls, lawsuits cost part of the pie! People are denied coverage, even though they’ve paid and paid huge premiums for years.  

I remember when I was pregnant with my son, 20 years ago. I wanted to have CVS (chorionic villus sampling) instead of amniocentesis. I needed to get approval right away, as I was quickly approaching the deadline for having the procedure. When I called my provider, it was Wednesday, and I could only have the test Friday morning. The woman that was to approve the procedure didn’t call me back. I left a few messages, and finally, called a general number. I explained my predicament. She said the person I was looking for had left Thursday, that day (with a 3 hour time difference!), for an early weekend. I was given a verbal OK to have the procedure.

The only place between Sacramento and Los Angeles that did this testing was UCSF. I scheduled the procedure, and everything turned out fine. About a month later, my insurance company told me I would only be reimbursed about 50% of the cost of the procedure because it was ‘reasonable and customary’ for the area. Reasonable and customary? Calling the company, I was informed they survey other hospitals and clinics in the area to ascertain the approved amount. Of course, I wrote a scathing letter to the company, and my employer. It was eventually covered.

My point: We have given over so much of our health care to others. How about we take it back? The last time I went to see my PCP was probably over a decade ago. My chiropractor (ask me for her name, she’s great!) takes care of little things or imbalances that are physical, my homeopath (another great one!) takes care of the rest. My healthy diet (OK, not always) and exercise take care of the rest. I don’t need all those expensive tests. I don’t like mammograms, thought they were a waste (yes, I did have thermography though, and I paid for it myself). Now it turns out they don’t really do much. Same with PSA; the medical community has now come to the conclusion it isn’t really a significant indicator of cancer. Read some medical trial information. Read between the lines. Are they studying natural vitamin E in the Finnish men that developed lung cancer? No, a synthetic, and only alpha tocopherol. It didn't prove anything. If you don’t like reading between the lines, ask someone else (that is healthy) what they do. Dry skin? Fish oil. Joint pain? Curcumin, ginger, glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin. Eat greens. Eat well.

What about cholesterol? HDL? LDL? All these things were so important 10 or 20 years ago. Not anymore. I say we go back to the beginning: You are responsible for your health. If you’re not healthy, find out what you need by seeing an alternative health practioner. Address the issues. If you need help, ask.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

EMFs and Your Health
OK, so you don’t want to hear your cell phone will give you brain cancer. Were you a smoker? Did you want to hear about lung cancer? Take heed, those of you that do not practice the precautionary principle. Charles Darwin had it right. 

A few years ago, I was watching Dennis Kucinich oversee the congressional hearings on cell phone radiation. It was enough to make me use my speakerphone whenever I wasn’t connected to my car’s system. Of course, most of the time I need to use my phone, it’s dead, so that isn’t such a big deal.

Now we find the 2G phones emit less EMFs (electromagnetic fields) than the newer phones. I went to the Green Festival and went by Credo’s booth. I asked the woman working there about a feature on my phone, a Samsung Seek. She explained it to me, and as I walked away, I said ‘That’s what I get for getting a smartphone, I can’t figure it out.’ And she giggled a bit, and said, ‘Yours isn’t a smartphone.’  OK, so I’m a little behind the times. That’s OK. I use Facebook and LinkedIn. I think I’m doing OK for my age. It helps to have a young offspring to teach me this stuff.

Today I clicked on ‘video’ in Facebook and was horrified to find it meant I WAS GOING TO BE ON VIDEO. I recognized the snarled hair and sleep-still-in-the-eye look and couldn’t figure out how to make it stop. I ended up covering the little peephole the camera sits in. But I haven’t figured out how to delete it. Now I worry someone out there can watch me freaking out – I was talking to my sister at the time – trying to get my computer to cease and desist.

So back to the phone. Since kids have thinner bones in their heads, the radiation penetrates further into the brain. This is not just a problem with phones. We have wireless signals from our phones and modems as well. I remember reading Robert Becker (we’re talking 60’s and 70’s – he knew about this problem way back then), The Body Electric. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s low or high frequency, it disturbs the cells. It damages our DNA. Devra Davis explained the report in Scientific American that said it doesn’t dissolve our DNA. She explained it doesn’t have to, it damages it. It’s stronger than a microwave! This is scary stuff.  I’ve read where radar sites around airports that overlap (think Ok City) have much higher rates of cancer that other areas nearby, and the higher the floor you live on, the worse your chances of remaining cancer-free.
So let’s pay attention, and control what we can in terms of radiation. Keep those electronics away from your head at night, and use a gauss meter to find out how much of a load runs around your bed. We’re not made to receive induced electricity. 

AACCKKK!!!! Here's the latest - and the worst:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Techno Beat

Well, you may guess by 'Techno Beat' I mean beat as in 'with a bat.' Or 'beaten.' It's difficult to keep up these days. I can't even keep my desk clean and I'm trying to learn new tricks. My sister was explaining the RSS feed thing. "No, no, that's the READ, not the FEED." I give up. Weren't our lives simpler without all these things?

I'm sure we all have our generational issues. When I was young, it was 'don't sit so close to the television, you'll ruin your eyesight.' Maybe even, 'don't read with a flashlight under the covers, you'll go blind.' Then it was the walkman, 'you'll go deaf.' We all have our stories of 'don'ts.' Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all the talk now. Even my friends don't understand the attraction our kids have to Facebook. I know it took me a long time to understand it, and it was only after I watched my son sit in front of the monitor for hours before I realized what it was that was so compelling. It's like a big group of friends sitting in a circle. There are conversations going on all around the circle, and you're part of every one of them.

After my pilot career was over, I missed seeing my friends that I always saw in the crew room. Now I have a way to reconnect with them. It's also interesting to see their political beliefs come out in their posts. We do have a responsibility to listen to others' opposing viewpoints. We don't have to agree, but an open mind is so very important. And that's probably what made me try to figure out why my son liked Facebook so much.

It has helped me reconnect with my friends. Thank you, Facebook!