Monday, June 27, 2016

Fee Fi Fo Fum!

A lot has been happening here. NOT in order of importance:
I'm working on my lesson plan for after school art that I will be teaching in the fall for Madera County School District through the Madera County Arts Council.
I am experimenting with making root beer completely from scratch. That is, from herbs and roots. No store bought extract. Good luck to me.

We got a new roof and windows by participating in a State Program that loans us the money and we pay it back at property tax time. Being poor has a couple advantages and this is one. Other than that you can have it. Being poor that is.
Then we get a hefty rebate from Pacific Gas and Electric for becoming energy efficient. And energy efficient we are now! BWR (Before windows and roof) the air conditioning would not go off on a triple digit heat day. Now it does so we know it's working.

The other advantage of being poor: we're getting a new wood stove completely free! There's this county program to promote clean air in the valley and through it we get a voucher that will pay for a brand new energy efficient woodstove to replace the old decrepit one we have.
We had a great visit in San Jose with my old friend and boss Lisa. Robert and Carolyn, who were co-workers, were also in attendance. Lisa pulled out the stops with food and it was great to reminisce and be amazed at the changes to our old company.

My friend Georgia continues to defy the odds in her fight against The Brain Tumor. It's been over 3 years since she had the seizure in the middle of the span of the San Mateo Bridge that was the first clue to what was going on.

Happy the horse is getting more so. We can now approach him without him running off. Marty has a few rides on him and has performed what I call "Going Through The Motions" even though that's not quite correct. GTTM is walk, trot, canter and the canter is a mile stone as that is where The Buck usually comes out if it's going to happen. But it didn't come out. Marty the Horse Whisperer. Don't tell him I said that. He hates that moniker.

We attended a Career Day at Keller Williams. We're going for it. We're going to sell real estate. We have to do something. The home stead will not be self sufficient for a few years and I'm telling you Social Security is not even near enough to cover expenses. Neither are my savings is going to cover expenses. The good thing about real estate is that we can work when we want (for the most part), it pays really well and is not a commodity that is against life. That is to say, it is not something that no one needs which is what most of the things sold these days are.
I am reading two great books. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Die Wise by Stephen Jenkinson.

My art room is finally ready to use after a delay of 3 months. None too soon as I now have a commission from the First Christian Church to render 3 views of their altar. For pay, by the way. They need visualizations for how 3 different remodels will look so they can decide which one they like best.

Which brings me to Fee Fi Fo Fum.
We took a day trip to Huntington Lake in the High Sierra. It's at over 6,000 feet so it's pristine and extremely cold being exclusively filled by snow melt. I got in but not for very long I can tell you! I am kind of a polar bear but I have limits. To really swim we went down to Shaver Lake which is not as pristine but warmer. It's at 3,000 feet.

Huntington Lake is very beautiful. It is above the bark beetle devastation that is afflicting the trees farther down the slope. Down there they are all dying and it looks like fall. So many orange trees. Awful. The drought is what did it. The beetles took advantage.
Here's the thing about Huntington Lake though. They want you to pay for everything.

I'm not sure there's any way around this. You're taking a chance bandito-ing a parking place to walk down to the lake for a quick look-see or commune with nature. Rangers patrol like hound dog Beagles. If you own a cabin I suppose you could walk in and not have to pay but that's not an option for us. I guess we'll hop in the car and go even farther up the road to Florence Lake or Mono Hot Springs and see what's happening there.
Love this gnarly old cedar.. or juniper?
A sight for sore eyes that live in the dry San Joaquin Valley.
High Sierra granite.
By the shining Big-Sea-Water...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Spider, Mr. Bill and a Horse Named Happy

But First..... Die Wise
I've been reading a very cool book recently. It's about the challenging subject of dying. The book is called "Die Wise" and it's by Stephen Jenkinson who is a psychologist and a palliative care worker. The book is very challenging but I'm getting a lot out of it. What I've gotten most so far is that waking up each morning is a gift and not to be taken for granted or expected like it's a right. When I think of it this way I actually feel happier, brighter, and my recent bout of depression (not debilitating, just garden variety ennui) is dissolving into thin air because I'm thinking about life and death in a different way.
One of my best friends, Georgia, has terminal brain cancer and Lenny, her husband, is right there with her. What an ordeal and I am very proud of them. I can't even think of a thing to say about it. My society does not give me a decent language with which to talk about it.

Ookina Kumo
Years ago I was visiting my friend Betsy and her husband at that time was Minao. Minao is Japanese. As we walked into the house I glanced up and saw a very, very large spider in its web just above the trumpet vine. I called Minao over, pointed at the spider and said "how to you say big spider in Kanji?" Minao says "Ookina ku-mo. Pronounce it Oh-kee-na Ku-MOH. If you say KU-mo it means "cloud".

This is a Black Widow. It's the biggest Black Widow (ookina kumo!) I've ever seen and it was living above our front door until one night I went out to get something in the car. I saw it when I started to go back in. It doesn't live there any more, needless to say and, no, we did not relocate it. Unless you consider relocating it to its next incarnation a relocation. Gone Girl.


We tried to get close to Bill Clinton the other day. This is the closest we could get. That's him and his white hair over there going into the back of the Fresno State University Student Union.

I'm kind of a celebrity junkie within reason. I only want to go see one when it's easy. I would not go out of my way. My best celebrity sighting was when I was in my hometown of Marshalltown, Iowa a few years ago. At the time I was visiting my dad and we were in a downtown antique store. When we went to the counter with our purchases the lady behind the counter said oh did you know that Hillary is going to be at the Court House in 15 minutes. I said Hillary who and she said you know Hillary Clinton. So we bought fast and raced down to the Court House a couple blocks away and sure enough here comes her big ole bus. She spoke to a small crowd (she says I just had a Maid Rite and I can tell you they're Made Right!) (Really Hillary so cheesey) and then they said she would be greeting the audience. Sensing my celebrity opportunity, as soon as she came off the podium I used my height and confidence to push my way to the rope and as she walked by I shook her hand (soft and small) and said I am happy to come all the way from California to meet you. She just kind of smiled and said thank you and went on to the next person. So maybe I've shaken the hand of the next President.

I'm pathetic. I know.

Marty is crazy. Maybe that's what I love about him. He was looking at Craigslist ads yesterday and came upon a horse for sale for $750. He called the owner and next thing you know we're in the car and it's 105 degrees and we're looking at this cute little pony size horse. The owner looked reputable. The horse looked confused and scared. But it also showed this quality that is hard to describe and is something that probably only years of looking at horses will tell you. He looked like he wanted to be a good horse.

So we bought him.

I said Marty you know you have to train him and find him a new home before winter, right? We only have a limited amount of space and budget for horses here. Here's what I think. If this little guy has any interest in jumping I think he might make a great Pony Club pony. In stature he reminds me of my daughter's first pony Spice. Of course, Spice was well broke when we got him. He needed to be. He was intended to be a 10 year old girl's horse. And he was.

Maybe this little guy can follow in Spice's footsteps (hoofsteps?). We'll see.

In the meantime, Marty has a fun project on his hands. Marty is really good at taking scared horses and making their inner gold come out. When we were at The Ranch he took their young mare who was all wound up tighter than tight from who knows what had been done with her and softened her right up. She was well on her way to becoming a really nice horse when we left The Ranch. Now we have Happy. I wanted to call him Apples for my sister's old Appaloosa but Marty insisted it was Happy and I'm letting it go. I want the little guy to grow into his new name. He's anything but happy right now but that's our goal for him. That Happy the appy loves his job.