June 22--Beating the heat

We were sitting having coffee and wondering how to negotiate a forecasted 110 degree day. I suggested we get out of town and drive up into the Sierras, and Malida immediately agreed. I filled a cooler full of ice, water, and fruit, and we headed east.

Our goal was a place called Kirkwood, up highway 88. It is a pretty drive to get there--pretty much the same drive we take to get to all the little gold rush towns in the foothills, but further east. In the winter, Kirkwood is a major ski resort, but in the summer, the area is dotted with a series of meadows and alpine lakes. The area is about 30 minutes from Lake Tahoe, but without all the people. It is a well-kept secret.

We got up there and decided to hike along the May Lake trail, which descends from the highway down into a meadow and some creeks. Normally the creeks are fairly placid. In years past, I used to fish them. Now I just take pictures.

caples creek

This is what one of the creeks looked like today. The water was so high and fast that we could only go about a third of the way in before we lost the trail, so we stopped and watched the water go by and enjoyed the day. It was in the high 70s and just about perfect. We ate cherries.


A selfie. Me and Malida, and my scraggly summer beard. I love not having to shave.


Some wildflowers growing from the rocks beside the trail. Because this place is at about 8000 feet, spring comes late. Amazingly, there is still some snow on the ground.

trail blazer

I taught Malida a little about how to read trail markings. I showed her some blazes carved into bark and some rock piles that help to show the way. And there's always the sign that says TRAIL ---->.


Yonder be the ski resort. It looks like it could be in Switzerland. After this we headed back down the hill and watched the temperature slowly rise. By the time we got to the produce stand about 20 minutes east of where we live, which is kind of the rural boundary, the temperature was reading at 111. We bought some early corn and came home. Tomorrow is supposed to be significantly cooler--maybe 100.
  • Current Music
    The No Ones--Ice Bears on the Run

June 21--Colfax and KBr

I got up fairly early and drove back up to my step-sister's to spend some more time with my dad. He's up there all week and just hanging around the pool. I got there at about 9:30 and we had coffee and sat outside with my step-sister. She had to go to an appointment, so my dad and I got in the car and headed up the road about 15 miles to the town of Colfax.


Colfax is a small town along Highway 80, on the way to Reno. It was, they say, an important staging area for the building of the section of the transcontinental railroad line that went over the Sierra Nevada mountains. My dad heard there was a museum here and wanted to take a look. He thought it was a rail museum, but it was really just a collection of old stuff from the town.

rail map

They did have some rail maps, though, and my dad showed me the route he took when he worked on the mail train back in the early 1960s. He says it was the best post office job he ever had. They would load up the mail in Oakland and sort it along the way, as well as collecting mail from the different towns. He says the work didn't really take very much time, and they spent most of their time eating and playing cards as they headed over the mountains. The would stay overnight in a $2 hotel in Winnemucca Nevada, and head back the next day. Eventually it was less expensive to send mail via trucks and air, and they discontinued the rail post office service.

One of the interesting things in the museum was a collection of medicine bottles from the old pharmacy that closed years ago. I took some pictures to toss into my lecture slides. I love old medical stuff like that.


Potsssium bromide, which was once used to control seizures. Now it is used only in animals.

After the museum we had some lunch, and then headed back down to Holly's and hung out by the pool and talked for a while. I think it was the longest time he and I have spent together without other people around in years and years. It was a good visit.

I headed back down to the valley and the 110 degree temperatures. I had closed all the curtains at home, and the house was nice and cool. In the evening I met with my landscape guy to talk about the back yard.
  • Current Music
    Felice Brothers--Diamond Bell

June 20--The Fish Report with a Beat

Another warm day in the forecast. People who live in my area are freaking out about it on Facebook. We get a bunch of 100+ degree days here every year. It's part of living here. It's like complaining that it is raining in Seattle.

Not to say that there aren't some people adversely affected by the heat--particularly our homeless population. The local governments have opened some cooling centers for those who do not have the luxury of escaping the heat in air-conditioned houses and cars.

We went out walking early this morning, before it got too hot. There were a lot of people out in the park doing the same thing. When we drove past the park this afternoon, it was deserted.

tree face

As I walked past this tree, I noticed two things--the colors, and what looked like a face to me. I stopped to take a picture. Malida commented that she saw a face as well. I see faces in all sorts of things. I read something recently about a guy who sees faces in all sorts of things, and then paints the faces he sees. It was fascinating.

Our plan to beat the heat was to go to the movies. We had a light lunch at LaBou, and then headed to the theater. We rarely see films in the theater, unless it is something special. Before we saw The Godfather a few weeks ago, I would guess that it had been about 2 years since we saw a film on the big screen.

We saw Wonder Woman, which was completely awesome. It was not a movie I was planning to see, or even paying any attention to. I was aware that it existed, but that's about it. Superhero action films are not something I am drawn to.

Anyway, one of my friends here talked about seeing it, and the way she talked about it made me want to see it. I mentioned it to Malida last night, and she said she had heard good things about it and wanted to see it was well.

I love actors who can tell you what they are experiencing by just their facial expressions. Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, has that. Even though it is an action film, it is also a fairly complex drama, driven by her journey into and exposure to the real world.

And then I found this:


I want.
  • Current Music
    Phosphorescent--Los Angeles

June 19--Mugs (four different ones)

I was emptying the dishwasher this morning and realized that I tend to put my favorite coffee mugs in a certain place, so that when I open the cabinet, at least one of them will be there. We have a lot of coffee mugs--enough to last a month if we used one every day and them broke it. Some are in heavy rotation, and others just kind of sit in the back of the cupboard hoping to be picked. We have gone through them before and gotten rid of a few, but the "keep" pile is always more substantial than the "toss" pile.

four mugs

Four of my favorites, from left to right: Cafe Du Monde, MURSE, California Zephyr, and Mystery Spot.

Cafe Du Monde: From my first trip to New Orleans back in the 90s when my mom got sick there and spent a month in the hospital. I have a newer Cafe Du Monde cup from the last time I was there earlier this year, and it gets an honorable mention.

MURSE: Given to me by my students a number of years ago. It was my work mug for a while, until I was gifted a pink Hello Kitty mug by another class. For work mugs, Hello Kitty has no peer.

California Zephyr: This is the mug I was holding in my hand when I realized that I gave certain mugs special preference. I bought this last month when we were at the rail museum in Jamestown. Even though it is the newest, it has risen to the top as far as mugs I prefer. There was at least one time this past week that I spared it from the dishwasher and hand-washed it so I could use it the next day. When I was a kid, we used to stay at some cabins along the Feather River, and every afternoon, the California Zephyr train would go past on the other side of the river, on its way to Chicago.

Mystery Spot: I love this mug. I got it at the Mystery Spot, which is a tourist attraction in Santa Cruz. It is one of those places where bowling balls roll uphill, etc. It is cheesy, but authentically cheesy. We were there about 5 years ago during a short but delightful trip.

In other news, I went in to work this morning to hand in the keys to the old building and pick up the keys to the portable buildings. We had been told that the portables would all be keyed the same, so we would only need a single key, but somebody thought differently, and we ended up with 7 keys.

Just before I handed my keys over to the operations person, I took a picture. She looked at me, and then down at the keys.

"What are you taking a picture of?" she asked. I told her I was taking a picture of the keys.


"I take pictures of everything." That seemed to satisfy her, and she handed over the new keys.

The old keys.

I'm listening to the final Pink Floyd album that had Roger Waters as part of the band, The Final Cut. For some reason it has been playing in my head all day. It is both a companion to The Wall, and a sort of Roger Waters solo album, as the other members had very little to do with it. I can remember sitting in my shithole apartment in Oakland listening to it for the first time, not quite sure what to make of it. Now it is among my favorites.
  • Current Music
    Pink Floyd--Not Now John

June 18--The new gets old much faster than the old gets old.

We went up to Auburn to have Father's day at my step-sisters house. Pretty much everyone was there except for one step-sister (the one that usually does all the cooking for these things), whose husband is ill. It was nice to see everyone. I don't see my step-siblings all that often, but I enjoy being around them.


My dad hasn't completely bounced back from his cardiac issue and pacemaker placement. He seemed somewhat weak and frail compared to how he was a few months ago, though for 88 he is doing pretty well. In my experience as a nurse, I have seen that you can be really healthy at an advanced age, but it doesn't take much to disrupt that.

My step siblings' father, Dick, was there too, and he is somewhat in the same shape. After I got done talking with my dad about how he is feeling, Dick asked, "Is the clinic open?", and asked me about some issues he is having. Both of them had symptoms that their doctors need to know about, and I recommended that they both give their doctors a call.

My dad and Dick get along pretty well, considering they were both married to the same woman. I find that curious.

We had a great brunch and then everyone hung out in the pool, as it was about 104 degrees out. It was a lazy afternoon full of small conversations. I spent some time talking with my step-brother Eric. It was good to catch up with him.


I'm not sure why I didn't take a shot of everyone in the pool. Maybe because I was in the pool too, and didn't want to get out. I would have stayed in there all afternoon if I had more faith in sunscreen, but I've been burned before.


The alpacas came out in the late afternoon and hung out under the shade of a tree.

It was a good day, and I was glad to see my dad and my family. He will be there all week, and I will go up again on Wednesday to hang out and visit some more.
  • Current Music
    Irone & Wine--Call it Dreaming

June 17--heat wave!

It's hot here, and gonna stay hot. Malida woke me up at 5:30 this morning and suggested we go out walking before it got to hot. I suggested rolling over and sleeping for another hour. We did get up at 6:30 and went for a walk. The temperature was already 78. It was a nice walk, and there were plenty of people who had the same idea.

It was in the mid 80s by the time we finished. We came home and had coffee and did chores until we went out again for some lunch at Malida's favorite hamburger place. Interestingly, there were a lot less people there than usual. Maybe the heat keep them home. It was 99 when we went to eat.

From where I was sitting in the restaurant, I could see the people in the next table. It looked to be a guy, his mom, and his girlfriend. I could only really see the girlfriend's face. She seemed pretty uncomfortable around the mom. A lot of looking out the window as mom and son chatted, and looking at her phone. I love watching people and trying to figure out what is going on.

After lunch we came home and took a nap. I dreamed that the cats were sleeping on my lap, but there were two extra cats. I wondered where they came from. I tossed one out the door, and decided to keep the other one.

After we got up I prepared some vegetables to take to our friends' new house. They used to live on the far side of town, but now they are on our side, and much closer. They have a lovely home with lots of counter space in the kitchen. We enjoyed a meal and talked for hours. It is nice to have them closer to us.

It is still in the mid 90s, and will only cool down to 80 overnight. Tomorrow we will go up to see my dad and my step-sister. Her house is up in the foothills where it will be a few degrees cooler, and she has a pool, so should be just about perfect.

bright pond

The bright pond early this morning.
  • Current Music

June 16--Mom's Rainbow Diner, Car Wash, and Disco Lounge!

It was going to be hot today so I got an early start. I talked with one of my doctoral class friends fairly early as I had my coffee, just to catch up. We will be up her way in August, and are making plans to meet up. After I talked with her I went out and ran errands. I had a drawer runner that was broken, and although I am not in any sense a handyman, I thought this was something I could tackle, so I got the stuff for it.

After the hardware store, I took the car to the car wash. My sister will be here this weekend and we will take her up to see my dad at my step sister's house on Sunday for Father's day, so Malida wanted me to make sure the car was clean. Not that my sister would notice.

While I was at the car wash I ran into two old friends--Ed and Doloris. Ed was in my deacon class, and we were ordained together back in 2004. I haven't seen them for a few years. They are among the kindest people I know. When my first wife was sick, Doloris would drive her to chemo when I wasn't able too, and they were always there for us. We chatted for a few minutes until their car was ready, and made plans to meet again soon.

Ed & Doloris

When I lived in Oakland, there was an actual place called Mom's Rainbow Diner, Car Wash, and Disco Lounge. And it was a diner, car wash and disco lounge. I didn't have a car then, so never actually got to have a car wash there, but I have never forgotten it. There was a big rainbow painted over the place.

The other day I mentioned that something had irritated me, and I didn't want to write about it then. I thought about it today and found that it no longer irritates me, so I will just let it be.

I came home and fixed the drawer, and it works perfectly. It's my junk drawer, so it gets used a lot. Does everyone have a junk drawer, or is it peculiar to my family? I keep all sorts of stuff in there, like old keys, a hammer, some screwdrivers, a ball of twine, a plastic fly, and so on.

I had lunch and then lazed during the heat of the afternoon. In the evening I went out and watered the plants and made some plans in my head for what to do with the back yard. Tomorrow the temperature will be in the low 100s. By Tuesday, it will be 109. Hot!
  • Current Music
    Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit--Tupelo

June 15--Adios palm tree

The guys came this morning to chop down the palm tree. There were three of them. Alejandro and his two assistants. I asked him how he would do it and he explained it to me. He looked up at all the dead fronds and noted that there were probably some animals living in there, which someone had already suggested to me. Alejandro added that there might even be raccoons in there. We do have raccoons in our neighborhood, but I thought they lived in the storm drains.

He put a big ladder up against the tree and climbed up to the top. He cleared some fronds, then climbed onto the tree itself and roped himself in. His assistant removed the ladder and there he was, up in the tree, with a chain saw. I was impressed.

tree 1

I would be reluctant to be up that high.


Once he was settled up there, he went to work. He dropped stuff down to his assistants, who took it out front and put it through a wood chipper. He has an efficient operation.

We went for a walk in the park and when we got back, they had the tree down, and were getting ready to go to work on the stump. Alejandro drove the stump grinder and got it down to nothing, then ground the stump of another tree we had taken out last year. They were done in about 2 1/2 hours.


Now it looks like this. The fence will come down in a week or two, and be replaced. After that we will have our garden guy clear things out and will build some planter boxes, etc. Malida wants a cherry tree too.

After the tree we went out and had Chinese food for lunch. We hardly ever have Chinese, because Malida doesn't like it. The place also has Mongolian BBQ, and I might go back on my own to try that.

I was chopping down a palm tree
When a friend dropped by to ask
If I would feel less lonely
If he helped me swing the axe.
I said: No, it's
not a case of being lonely
We have here,
I've been working on this palm tree
For eighty seven years
I said: No, it's
not a case of being lonely
We have here,
I've been working on this palm tree
For eighty seven years
He said: Go get lost!
And walked towards his Cadillac.
I chopped down the palm tree
And it landed on his back.

--Neil Young: The Last Trip to Tulsa
  • Current Music
    Neil Young--The Last Trip to Tulsa

June 14--A day late

I had something to post about yesterday--a minor rant about something that happened in the morning and took four hours to resolve, but as I got on to write about it, I saw the first reports of the big high-rise fire in London and watched the Sky News coverage. I decided my minor rant wasn't important considering the unfolding tragedy.

I was quite surprised to wake up and find that the London fire wasn't the major news story today. It had been bumped by the shooting of some congress people and aides in Virginia by some crazed gunman. If that weren't enough, there was another mass shooting in San Francisco. Unbelievable.

I don't have a picture that describes today, so I am using one from last year of some peaceful flowers.

old flowers

June 12--One more brick in the wall

It was a lovely day. I took a walk in the park and did errands, arranged to have the palm tree removed, made eye doctor appointments for Malida and myself, and had a nice salad for lunch.

In the evening I drove downtown to the new arena that opened late last year to see a concert featuring Roger Waters, one of the founding members of Pink Floyd. The arena is much better than I imagined. There is a plaza with some public art that leads to the main entrance. Lots of nice places to sit, which I did, because I was somewhat early. I watched people arrive for the show. Most of them were somewhere near my age, but a surprising number of younger people as well.

I had a pretty good seat about halfway back, but with a good sightline to the stage and the huge screen above it. The people sitting near me on either side were very friendly. I won the award for having seen Pink Floyd three times, and Roger Waters as a solo act once previously. The guy to my left, Carlo, said "Wow, dude! How old are you?"

Roger Waters

For the first half of the show, there was just a big screen behind the band. They projected all sorts of stuff up there. Pink Floyd was ahead of the game in concert visuals, and Roger Waters seems to have incorporated everything he has learned into this production.

During the second set, a second series of screens dropped down from the ceiling and bisected the audience. I don't think I have ever seen anything like it before.


Roger Waters doesn't make his dislike of Trump a secret. One of my Texas pro-Trump friends suggested that a lot of people would probably walk out at this point, but It brought the crowd to their feet, cheering.


And of course, a blurry photo of the flying pig. When I first saw Pink Floyd perform Animals, back in 1977 (40 years ago!!! Wow, dude! How old are you?), the pig was suspended on a wire and just traveled from the back of the stadium to the front. Now, the pig is a drone, with a bunch of little motors that someone is remotely controlling. This meant that the pig could wander all over the arena, which everyone loved.

It was a good show.
  • Current Music
    Pink Floyd--Sheep