All tagged February 2018

     Every month I get a comment or two from someone who has read my previous column.  Last month when I wrote about problems getting a building permit  I really touched a nerve.  People now come up to me with their stories of woe such that I feel like I accidentally began a sort of "Me-Too" moment for frustrated permit seekers.  I am still waiting for someone to tell me that things aren't so bad—that they got through the system with minimal difficulty.

     It’s a scenario aspiring authors can only dream about: Your first book is finally due for publication, the buzz is building, people in the know discuss it a bit breathlessly and say things like “hotly anticipated,” and then, the unimaginable happens. The book, your book, is longlisted for the National Book Award — before it’s even released. Welcome to the world of Carmen Maria Machado.

     The weather along this stretch of California is moist, mild and bright enough for planting tender greens and Southeast Asian ornamentals subject to frost-damage..  Gardeners my shudder when frost occurs along the coast, but the first cold snap is a boon for birds who have been waiting for tough-fibered edible berries to finally succumb into softness.  Now robins and thrushes are happily flocking to Cotoneaster, toyon and rose bushes to chow down on the more succulent and slightly sweet fruits – what joy!

      The cove was a mass of shining fronds of bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) floating languidly atop the swell. Each plant’s long, brown stalk stretched down to a sea floor teeming with myriad creatures. Amid the dim light filtering down from the surface, a leopard shark’s dappled form glided slowly, in search of prey. Small fish sheltered beneath the kelp canopy. Abalone grazed on succulent algae that clothed the rocky bottom. A black seabird dove beneath the surface, darting here and there, propelled by strong wings and feet, picking off fish, one by one. Life in the forest – this Kingdom of Kelp - was good, was balanced...

     Rex and I both use a common homeopathic treatment called Rescue Remedy when we get stressed out. It helps Rex when his McNab friend harasses and jumps on him, and it helps me when I need to fly on a plane. Essentially a flower essence, Rescue Remedy keeps Rex from going to that manic place of spinning in circles when he can’t get away from his doggie friend, and keeps me from crying when the plane goes through a little turbulence.

Driverless Vehicles. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

     For virtually all Americans, from Baby Boomers to Millenials to Gen-X to Gen-whatever, driving is a right of passage. Growing up we transitioned from the back seat, to the front seat, to the drivers seat. Most of us learned to drive in our parents’ car (taught by them), and at some magic moment began to “borrow” that car for our own use. Eventually we got jobs and began buying our own car, van, or motorcycle.