Guardians

Mishewah Wappo descendent Alyx Howell said that his people call poison oak “guardian oak” and, as a result, have a better relationship with the plant. When you call it guardian oak, you are less likely to get an itchy rash. Alyx knows stories about the oaks that I have not heard from any other source. … Read more »

A Fantistical Opossum Story

The story starts with taking out the trash about 8:15 pm Wednesday, an unusual thing for me to do. In fact, when have I taken out the trash in the evening? It involves driving the 3/4 mile driveway to the trash cans at Dry Creek Road, and who in their right mind would do that… Read more »

Go-Bags and Exit Plans: Navigating the New Normal

The ranch is fresh green, the Mexican daisies and Spanish lavender in full bloom, and the birds courting. We’ve had a fraction of our average seasonal rainfall. I find it harder to enjoy the brilliance of April, one of the most verdant months here. The valley oak leaves are large and still that first green-gold…. Read more »

Arrival of the Beloved Dog, Bramble Berry

We picked up our labradoodle Bramble Berry three years ago this week, on April 16, 2018. He was just 8 weeks old. He arrived at a difficult time for us, with several challenges initiating me into overseeing everything my husband Donald used to do as his health declined. Donald and I drove to Fair Oaks,… Read more »

Lineage of the Christmas Stocking

My cousin, about the age of my mother, knitted the stockings for my younger sister Judy and me when we were very young, and I have knitted the same pattern stocking for each of my children, their wives, and their children. When my daughter-in-law Melissa, Grace’s aunt, reminded me that it was time to start… Read more »

Wind–and Fire

This latest round of fires began in the early hours Sunday. I wrote this that morning before the flames would spread over the mountains east and west. As I write, we are notified yet another red flag warning may be issued tomorrow.  We are all on alert. Yes, this is climate change, California style. It… Read more »

Art and Land-Use

Casey and I ran across the stone one late autumn day in 2016 as we were hiking the trails of Austin Park in Napa. We stopped in surprise, examining a   haiku pasted to its side. “grass greens bright/long slow drizzle/ flowers prepare to POP”.  We photographed the stone and continued down the trail. Just… Read more »

Reflections on Ancestral Home While Sheltering In Place

My ancestral home, which my great grandfather had built in the late 1800s after a year of a good corn crop, was situated on two, park-like acres. A man named Botoner built the East Lake style house with its five bedrooms, kitchen, dining room (always used as a living room), and parlor. The kitchen was… Read more »

Masking up for Earth Day 2020

A dear high school friend makes a Facebook dare: Post a picture of yourself in a mask. Her smiling eyes peer over her navy blue, star-studded mask, her head wrapped in a scarf. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy but her spirit sparkles. I scroll down. There are men and women, all of a certain age,… Read more »

Thoughts While Sheltering-in-Place

We have been through emergencies before: floods, the earthquakes of 1989 and 2014;  the devastating fires of recent years which burned whole towns, shrouding us in smoke for weeks. Now each late summer and fall we live with days of no electrical power as PG&E proactively turns off major power lines to avoid another fiery… Read more »