Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter Arrives

Today is the solstice and the storms are beginning to arrive from out in the Pacific. This is an El Nino year and many are purchasing sand bags,tarps and other assorted items at Ace Hardware for the upcoming season. It is cold today, and it is a damp cold. I like days where I can stay in and not feel guilty about not going outside. This is one of those days, although I plan to go to dinner at a place close by.

Today, I am writing cards and sending emails.I've sort've reached an impasse with my rock painting.It has supported me over the past five years, but I am beginning to tire of it a bit. What I am going to do next is anyone's guess, but until I do, rock painting will be the order of the day.Besides,It is Christmas after all, and remembering friends during the holidays is a good practice and something that is expected.Most of the people I know will be spending the day with family and friends.It is not any different for me.

This year I plan on participating as a speaker at an Alcathon meeting in Napa at 2am in the morning on Christmas day. What better time to be grateful for all that has been given to me. I am planning on being with friends on Christmas eve, and will also be doing the second reading at the church I go to here in Calistoga.Besides this,I will be probably be eating lots of good food and sleeping long hours on Christmas day. Best wishes to all, and to all a good night !

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Winter Approaches

I don't seem to mind my indoor activities much because I have a good reason. I'm earning a living by staying busy in the studio part of my one bedroom apartment where I've lived for the past twenty years. I would have never imagined that I would stay in Calistoga, if you had told me that back in the nineties.Today was pretty darn cold. The temperature only got up into the high fifties, as the thermometer went down into the high twenties, which is just cold enough to kill the plants on the deck.The fruit as been dropping around here too. My neighbor Raphael let me pick a whole grocery bag full of lemons,and my friend Eleanore gave me a bag of Fuju Persimmons which are like eating fresh apples... yum! The other kind are to bitter and puckery unless they are soft enough to put in your yogurt.Okay, I am hungry and their is still enough turkey left over from Thanksgiving to tide me over.Speaking of which, you can see the whole group there noshing away at Martha and Ernie's place. My friends Veda and Bill are there along with my niece Terry wearing the party hats.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Are the rains on their way?

We have a storm on the horizon according to recent weather reports.It is said that this is supposed to be an El Nino year. All indications are that this Winter/Spring should be a whopper.I am already missing summer (which began a year and a half ago, and apparently has just ended this past October). The weather has been fantastic for my rock business however, which has me at the Calistoga Farmer's Market every Saturday morning.Talk about cooperation!

Many folks are already prepared for the wet weather.Ace hardware is busy with customers getting gutter covers, tarps,rubber boots etc. I still have to get a tarp for my sun deck, which is starting to show some wear.This little tarp which covers my deck has given my lots of treasured privacy though,especially from the kids who are hanging out in the back yard over the back fence and throughout the hood. I can hear them, which is enough.

It is a certainty that these cottages on Lake Street are a fertility site.Every young couple that has lived here in the past twenty years have made a total of at least three youngsters per household (and all these babies were born here !) I love kids as much as the next person, but squealing, yelling,bawling toddlers will eventually take it's toll. My neighbors are great people,and when all is said and done, this is a small price to pay for being the old fart that lives upstairs.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

All the news from Lake Wobegon

Garrison Keiler might say that this is not the news from Lake Wobegon, but it has turned into a catch phrase way of telling people what you have been up to lately.Sometimes it feels like Groundhog day all over again here in Calistoga, because change seems to happen very slowly here. The weather has been cold in the morning and sunny in the afternoon. Temperatures have been ranging from 40 to 70 degrees, so Fall is definitely here. Rain is expected in the coming days and most are happy about that because of the long draught that has plagued us for the past two years.

The Warriors have started their basketball season with a few wins already and it looks like the team is off to a good start. Kids are recovering from last week's Halloween soire and hopefully are busy with their homework.I am busy painting rocks which is like a meditation for me.Below is a picture of a hippie couple dancing in the town square in downtown Sebastopol.They looked like they were stoned after watching them earlier.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween approaches...

Next Saturday is Halloween and I am unprepared.These past few weeks have occupied my mind and body with a whole assortment of domestic chores. Car wash, laundry,doctor appointments, etc. This is also the reason I haven't kept up with my blog. I don't like the words "busy" or "work." These words should be stricken from my vocabulary. I am in pursuit of leisure, fun and play. I am replacing the word preparing for busy, because it points to the future. Busy just says that I am trying to catch up and am unavailable.Everyone nowadays is busy, distracted, occupied and unavailable. People around ,here are busy sitting on their asses ! I exclude myself as I am preparing this blog, of course).The picture below sort of looks like Uncle Fester from the Adams Family. I post this because it is supposed to look like a guy when he is too busy.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Another Fire?

What is now known as the "Valley Fire" has followed the Jerusalem and Rocky fires in Lake County. Now a large percentage of Middletown and Harbin Hot Springs have been devastated.The fairgrounds here in Calistoga is now filled with evacuees and the story has reached national attention.The climate of grief is palpable.Yesterday, I was at the Farmer's Market down in the city of Napa selling my gift rocks when I was approached by a young woman named Kathy.She was looking over the items I was presenting on the vendor's table. She paid a compliment about the rocks when I asked where she was from.

"Hidden Valley" was here response.She was on the verge of tears when I came out from behind the table to give her a big hug.My heart sank as she told me about her neighbors who had lost everything.Thankfully,Her house had been spared, but what was she going to return to? She had been driving around aimlessly when she decided to stop at the Farmer's Market.That brief moment with her enveloped my being for the rest of the day.Since that happened,I have been thinking about this event constantly.It is already Wednesday, but it feels like it just happened.Most everyone is still in shock as the donations and volunteers have been streaming into the evacuation shelters.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

What the drought has wrought

The Rocky fire as it is called, has now spread over 68,000 acres... spanning three counties here in Northern California. The land is dry and brittle from our long drought here in California.It started on July 29th, and here it is the 5th of August and it is only 20% contained. Thirty-nine residences and 52 outbuildings have been destroyed. It has been reported that over 3,400 fire personnel have been employed, with over three hundred Fire engines having been dispatched. This thing is huge to say the least.Hotter conditions are expected as the week progresses.Clear Lake resides in the next county over,which is Lake County. The fire has enveloped an area southeast of a small town called Middletown.People in Middletown are on alert as the fire has been spreading.The cause for concern is that the fire can change direction at any time,all depending on which way the wind is blowing. This is a scary situation for everyone involved.It is hoped that the fire is contained soon, as this is making everyone quite weary and restless.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mourning another tooth loss.

This is the second tooth I have had to have pulled this year. This one was a molar with a gold cap (which I don't know if I was compensated for yet ) It was quite painful, but I am relieved it got taken out. I will have to wait at least six months to see if I am suitable for an implant. My sister Rita is not convinced that implants are the answer. She has not had as much luck with them ( and they were taken out in short order for her ). Implants or not, the truth is that I am getting older and shit like this will start to visit upon me.Teeth are my friends,and I don't like to lose them. Last week I week I got a cortisone shot in my left foot to alleviate planter fasciitis. I doubt that I will ever run again, but at least I will be able to go on hikes. It seems like their are a lot of people my age that are comparing notes when it comes to medical maladies, as each of us grows older.Thank God for Medi-Cal and in the very near future,Medicare. I understand that at least my prescriptions will be paid for; and I only have to call ahead to Smith's Pharmacy to place my order.The saying goes that, "Getting old ain't for sissies!" No truer words...

On a lighter note, I went to hear a Cuban singer last night at Sonoma University's Weil Theater which is gorgeous and acoustically flawless.His name is Carlos Varela. The performance was moving. He spoke about his homeland in Havana growing up in a time-warped country under Communist rule.He sang beautifully and soulfully getting the audience involved through clapping and singing along. His brother, Aldo Lopez-Gavilan provided a solo piece that caught everyone buy surprise.His skills and vibrant expression on the grand Bosendorfer piano was the best I've ever heard.It was jaw-dropping.People gave him a standing ovation, to which they shouted and cheered, Bravo! Many were moved to tears.The trio, which included bassist Julio Cesar Gonzalez made for a evening of unique and thoroughly enjoyable music.My friends,Bill and Veda Florez went out later to Mary's Pizza Shack for a Pesto Pizza before heading home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pursuing Beauty

Here i am holed up, in my hot and sweaty apartment thinking about all the rocks I have to paint to keep my inventory current. If the creative juices were flowing, my work would bring a little more satisfaction. Unfortunately, I have been rehashing a lot of similar designs. Thank God for color variations and the many combinations because it helps provide each rock with a distinctive quality.Staying focused can be difficult when you have a bunch of neighborhood kids who scream and shout, celebrating their long days of summer.My personal code of patience and tolerance carries me through on most days.Staying inspired by finding things that stir the imagination reminds me that art is everywhere. The spillage on the sidewalk seen in the pic below is a sample of found art. Staying engaged in the process of seeking beauty wherever it can be found keeps me in a good frame of mind.Now back to the acrylics.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

To the Beach!

It is important to get away to the coast every so often. My new friend, Robert and I went to collect sandstones over at Russian Gulch. The weather was overcast in the beginning and the clouds began to part as we went back. One has to go through a jungle of sorts to get to the beach. The trail is about a quarter mile, and this time of the year the plants are abundant and lush. The whole area was rich and green, teaming with life. The beach itself is rather small. I would say it is not over one hundred yards, from end to end. Drift wood and sea weed would cover the part of the beach where I took the following pictures. I went back to my car to get a few Spirit rocks to take some showcase images.Robert was content just to lie down on the sand.

Friday, June 05, 2015

School's out for the summer

Today is June fifth and the days are heating up again. The Spring has presented us with lovely, cool days in the 60's and 70's, but when it hits 80 and above... I roast. This weekend is expected to be over 90.The bike rides I've been taking to stay in shape have paid off. I am getting in shape and my attitude has been good. Notice I didn't say great, but good.The Warriors basketball team however, is doing great, and I mean great! They are in the NBA finals, and have already won their first game! That picks my spirits up for sure.

The other day my neighbor's kid(s) graduated from elementary school. I remember Monica (The girl on the left in the picture below) as a cute little four year old playing with her brother, and now they both are soon to become teenagers. These growth spurts get me feeling a little sentimental and weepy.

I suppose that as the days get longer during summer, my time on the planet seems to be getting shorter, I don't know.Kids just grow up too fast these days. I want them all to stay cute and lovable. I suppose they are still lovable.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grieving a lost molar

Monday I had a molar extracted from my mouth.I have spent my whole life maintaining my smile. Frequent trips to the dentist when I was younger were common place. I never had to wear braces because I was told that if you don't stick you tongue in the space where the tooth came out, your teeth won't come in crooked.I believed that advice.

I used to have mercury fillings, but as an adult I had all of them removed. My health and well-being improved considerably.I have three teeth with gold caps, one porcelain, and have had an assortment of surgical procedures including three root canals and a periodontal scaling.One of the root canal treatments was botched. Dr. Scott did not remove the whole root and over time the pain came back whenever I bit down on my left side.

Eventually the tooth got infected and the dentist told me that I had a choice to make. Live with it, or have it extracted and replaced with an implant. I again, put the matter on hold figuring that I would just tolerate the pain and would have it taken out when the pain became unbearable.Well, that happened. Dr. Politz from Napa's Oral and Maxillofacial clinic had the job of removing the tooth.

Later, I was given a prescription for antibiotics and painkillers.As it turned out, I only took one painkiller and have nineteen pills left over.I don't know what to do with them.If I flush them down the toilet the will leech into the water supply.My plan is to return them to the pharmacy an let them deal with them.

Today i have a gaping hole where my molar used to be.I will have to wait six months before being considered for implant surgery. Great. Well,that will give me time to save up three grand to have it done.I still miss my molar.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hard Work and Manifestation

I like to shop for supplies to add to my Rock Painting business.Going to the beach used to be a regular sojurn. Traveling from Calistoga to Jenner is usually a day well spent. I get out of town, take a relaxing ride to the coast and I spend time in a secluded area to commune with nature.This is where I recharge my creative batteries so to speak. Many times I will find a rock or several rocks to use in my craft.

Returning home, I will have stopped at several art stores to pick up other supplies that I would use. Stickers, paint, brushes, glue, glitter and types of paper are just some of the items I am always in search of;To make something individual and unique. The work is usually the most enjoyable part of the creative process, but that depends.

Today, I purchased a magazine called "Fructose" which contains stories about artists like myself. I read things of this nature, and go to museums and galleries to support the culture from which i draw these ideas. The ideas are the components, not the media which I use to bring them into being.The ideas fuel the fire which drives creative expression. Otherwise, I am just practicing... always practicing.This is true especially when their is no clear idea where or how an idea will manifest, and thereby move this whole process forward.

Friday, April 03, 2015

A Good Friday

Today is Good Friday and it's already off to a good start. I've made a bank deposit and have paid the rent. Now I only have to pay my quarterly taxes and I will be able to breathe a little easier, at least until next month. I am going to the 12pm services at the church I attend, and plan to keep silence for three hours ( yes, it is possible ! ) Then I will have a nice lunch and go for a bicycle ride to Bothe State Park. All in all a great way to spend the day in Calistoga.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Getting away with bad behavior

I've been a roque and charlatan in my past, and I usually have paid for this nonsensical behavior somehow, some way. If not immediately, then down the line. When I was young, taking stupid risks was a way of establishing "Street cred" or at least having "Cajones". It was important then to be something more than a dweeb or non-entity amongst like-minded delinquents.Activities ranged from throwing a party when your parents are out of town, to petty larceny or sneaking into a movie theater without a ticket. 

Keep in mind that adults are not immune from this type of behavior ,or setting someone up to act it out for them. At times, all that is needed is a simple dare to propel one into performing in this unconscious way.Other times, all we need is to dare ourselves. Impulsivity usually plays an important role in when and how these deeds are carried out.

A case in point when, as and adult, I recently decided to beat the morning traffic by jumping onto the car pool ramp that leads to the toll plaza of the Oakland Bay Bridge. I queasily passed the signs that urged me over and continued right to the toll gate. There I saw a light flash, logging my transponder as I passed through. Then nothing happened. I proceeded across the bridge into San Francisco.

Today, I sit silently grimacing at the thought that I may have been caught. The fine would be well over two hundred dollars. I was wrong and I knew it. Why did I do it? The simple answer has always been that I thought I could get away with it. I no longer subscribe to this way of thinking, nor do relish this behavior. In fact, I find it deplorable. If I am issued a ticket, I will pay it and vow never to do that again. 

The consequences of this type of behavior were not taken into account. Is it that I think that I am different, or that the law does not apply to me? No. If anything, it is a carry over from my youth where I found it necessary to assert my independence, away from what I perceived were those oppressive, authoritarian autocrats. People I disdained, just by virtue of the fact that they easily took it upon themselves to tell me how to behave.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Running Buddies

Nancy and Sandy are the sweetest, most fun-loving women you would ever have the pleasure of knowing. We met up again at our friend Dan McGill's memorial service last Wednesday. Dan was the catalyst for our excursions throughout the Marin Headlands, Golden Gate park and Mt. Tamalpais. He would give us a call in the morning and tell us where and when to meet, and off we'd go on a four to six mile run. We would usually have a nice coffee clach at the end of our run where we would share ribald stories and unique viewpoints.

Nancy and Sandy have a real down-to-earth way about them, which makes them both attractive in their own special way. Sandy is living in Mexico now, and travelled all the way to be at Dan's service. A true friend, indeed. It was great seeing both of them and I hope that we will meet sometime soon in the near future. We are all accomplished marathoners and natural endorphine junkies. Because of this fact, May we all live long and prosper.God bless you Nancy and Sandy... and of course, Dan.

Here's a video of another old codger that we knew who inspired us.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bike Riding in the Napa Valley

I must say that having a bike to get around is a lot of fun, great exercise and saves on gas. Lately, I've been riding to meetings, to church and to the grocery store to pick up a few small items and have been enjoying every minute of it. Last week I drove from St. Helena to Calistoga (14 miles round trip) and was returning just after sunset. Recently, I have recognized how important it is to be seen on a bike and how for a few dollars you can equip your bike with some necessary safety features like a blinking headlight and taillight. I also have purchased a small bell to warn walker/runners when I am approaching.

Just when you are heading south on Washington street in Calistoga, you will run into a great bike path which takes you all they way to Dunaweal lane. You will pass by vineyards, a glider port, a duck and goose sanctuary, a model airplane field, a little league diamond and several small ponds. It is easy to cover a five miles stretch in no time and come back home feeling refreshed. Below is a small pic along the route I recommend.

My Wheels...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Scary Nice Weather

That is the best way to describe the weather this January. Every week has been more and more beautiful. The sun has been shining , the birds are chirping and the mustard is already in bloom. In other words, it's been scary nice weather. The central and east coast have been experiencing scary "not so nice" weather. New York city just escaped a major snow drop; probably the biggest in history. I hear this as I pour another lemonade, and prepare for a little bike ride through the vineyards.We Californians don't know how good we've got it. We have no right to complain about any fog, wind or inclement weather that has befallen us in the past two years. Make that five. I am very grateful to be living in the lap of luxury and still able to keep a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Only the grace of God could manage this. Below is the entry to the "Castle of Love" only a few miles from my home.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A New Year

Like most people, I enjoy this holiday, but don't celebrate it like I used to ( Thankfully ). New Year's is a good time for list making. What do I hope to achieve in the coming year. I think I attained one goal out of the six I made last year at this time. I made a nice looking rock stand for those who want to display their Spirit Rock prominently.

Yesterday, I went for a hike with my friend Dave, and then met up with my family ( including my niece, nephew, brother-in-law, sister and assorted grand nieces and nephews ) at the "Castle of Love" near where I live in Calistoga. It was loads of fun exploring the castle and taking lots of pictures with our I pads, I phones etc. I am so happy that I have a family like the one I do. The newest member is Casey, who my niece adopted this year. She is a very sweet fourteen year old who had not been off the island of Hawaii since her birth. This was her first big adventure to the mainland. Below is a picture of the crew as they appeared yesterday.