Sunday, April 22, 2012

EARTH DAY 2012 Claremont, CA

Earth Day 2012 is being recognized internationally today. 

My Claremont community had an Earth Day celebration yesterday, Saturday, with a variety of events.   Vendors and informational booths were set up throughout the several blocks area of our downtown Village.  

Demonstrations, workshops, children's events, speakers and information on sustainability were featured.   The city of Claremont and organizations devoted to sustainability organized the event.

I had planned to share my first hand impressions and experience but I decided not to attend, based solely on our unusually hot, well over 90 degree temperatures the past two days.   The prospect of walking about outdoors for several hours in even such low humidity heat has become considerably less attractive as I've aged.   I chuckle to myself as I've come to fully appreciate my mother's words many years ago, "The heat tires me."   There will be other interesting sustainability events in the future I can explore. 

Once grassy green lawns are being transformed into the more natural desert-like landscaping native to our area in my neighborhood, surrounding streets, and all over Claremont.   I've eliminated grass in my yard's parkway area (the strip between the sidewalk and the street.)   I have yet to decide what drought resistant plants I'll  install.    Several other yards have replaced all their front yard traditional green grass with a colorful variety of shrubs, decorative grasses, succulents, cacti and flowers.  Many Mediterranean plants thrive here.

One nearby house now has artificial grass that looks nice, but not what I would want.   There are considerable questions  about the eco-friendliness of synthetic grass.   Some of the cons are there's a wide variation in grass quality including rain water drainage issues.   The synthetic plastic grass is petroleum-based in a time when we want to use less oil, not more.    The product contributes to pollution deteriorating yearly, especially in high heat, emits toxic gases and will ultimately end up in a land-fill. 

I had always lived where watering grass wasn't necessary since Mother Nature sent her rain clouds frequently enough to keep the grass alive.  Only when I moved West did I encounter the grass-watering phenomenon.   The Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa-Tempe-Paradise Valley Arizona area which is truly desert had lots of homes with grass.  Some city areas had and still have canals running through communities.

Phoenix friends neighborhood canal had scheduled days when they turned their lock on and their yard would be completely flooded.  Often they would find crayfish left in the grass.  Golf courses were being constructed in surrounding city areas with more watering required which ultimately also increased the whole valley's humidity levels -- none too pleasant when the temperatures rose to 100+ and hovered in the 112 - 115 or so range.  

Initially, I was intrigued by the homes without grass that had chosen instead colored rocks -- green, sandy red, pink, or whatever shade you might choose.   I eventually tired of seeing those artificial-looking stones, much preferring our grass.  I haven't returned to the area for about a decade, but I would anticipate more grassy yards are being transformed into native desert landscaping.

Sustainability focus in my Claremont community has also included some homes establishing a series of small raised gardens for growing edibles.  Before my husband died I had several large pots with cherry tomatoes, and a few large lengthy rectangular pots in which I maintained a few lettuce varieties planted for staggered maturation.  I had also just obtained a small inexpensive plastic-type green house I thought I'd use on the patio during our winters, but I have yet to do so.

There are many sustainability ideas unique to each persons situation that would be enjoyable to learn about.   

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Some of you may recall I ventured into an unfamiliar to me literary realm by participating in a writing group beginning in the months following my husband’s death several years ago. One writer in our present group, Sue Buckwell, has given me permission to share a taste here of another of the most recent “flash fiction” stories she’s had selected for publishing at "Short Stories" blog.

There is no specific definition for “flash fiction,” but it refers to a style of fictional literature, or fiction of extreme brevity, 1000 words or less. Our group’s members enthusiastically look forward to Sue reading one of her original creations when we gather.

Sue's imaginative stories always have unpredictable endings, some quite diabolical, occasionally incredulous, others eliciting our laughter or additional emotional reactions.

You may read Sue Buckwell’s entire brief tale by clicking on this link to "Daddy Dearest.”

“My father was a psychoanalyst and instilled in me a fear of almost everything. Being a learned man, he also taught me the scientific names for each and every phobia I have amassed over the years. That one, for instance, is called polyphobia.”

I’m sure Sue will be most interested in your reaction to her story as will I and the rest of our group.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Californians had once thought there was a possibility our June primary election results might well be a significant determining factor in selecting the U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate. But now news pundits speculate the choice is pretty well settled. The present dominating Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, still needs more primary election delegates before the Party convention, but likely will have garnered them in other states.

Today a competing major Republican presidential candidate suspended his campaign, though a couple others remain. They're not expected to create seriously disrupting divisions at the convention, but one never knows until the political party officially gathers, delegates vote, then announce their nominee. Their vice presidential selection might be interesting, considering the previous presidential election year choice.

Incumbent President Barack Obama is the uncontested Democratic Party candidate.

The Republican Party convention will be held in Tampa, Florida one week before the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina which begins Labor Day. Then both candidates will court us for our votes the remainder of September and the entire month of October.

We've heard a lot of alarming Republican Party extremist base-appeasing rhetoric spoken to date. I'm curious about how their candidate will mold his future words and issue positions to attract the large percentage of more moderate, but alienated voters needed to win the national election? I anticipate some rhetoric discrepancies which leaves me wondering how voters can determine what he actually believes and will do?

We'll all want to pay close attention to both political party candidates words to see exactly what they each propose to resolve our nation's problems. Then, we'll need to compare that language with what they've said before, along with what we can realistically expect either of them to actually achieve. Congressional candidate selections we make will also be most critical for any future legislation passed.

A major issue both political parties are rightfully determined to address is reducing our national deficit. The parties seem to have distinctly different ideas about how this is accomplished. I've been concerned there are some alarming proposals for budget cuts adversely affecting current and future generations. Logic would suggest reductions would be made where dollars -- hundreds of thousands, millions, billions -- could most readily be realized with the least amount of negative impact on our basic needs, health and security. I find Congressional actions and failure to act on budget items that would contribute to that goal extremely troubling.

The end of March when the issue of oil company subsidies arose our U.S. Senate Republicans, plus a few Democrats, demonstrated just how seriously they're committed to the goal of deficit reduction. Senators also revealed what interests are their real priority.

President Obama had proposed eliminating $24 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the big five oil companies, but his plan met with little support. Senators ignored the fact the oil companies profits have been very high. Also, little did it matter that these oil companies are expected to make a trillion over the next decade. Given how dedicated Republicans are to save taxpayers money, voting to eliminate these oil company subsidies seemed like it should have been automatic.

The reality: only two Republicans -- Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe -- thought these oil subsidies were a good place to initiate deficit reduction. All other Republican Senators didn't want to save our taxpayer dollars, including four Democrats -- Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and James Webb of Virginia.

To repeat, we know where those Republican Senators priorities are and how sincere they are about national deficit reduction in ways to least impact the ordinary American. This is only one example of an area where taxpayer dollars could be saved. Americans across this nation should be outraged.

Listen to the words, review past actions plus current acts in these months leading to the November 2012 election.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


"This year, the pink moon coincides with the Easter weekend and the start of Passover, the most sacred times in the Christian and Jewish calendar."

This full moon is named after the moss pink flower whose blooms indicate the coming of spring.

Enjoy some spectacular photos of the weekends 'pink moon' over New York City's skyline at this U.K.'s Daily Mail link.

Sunday, April 01, 2012


Do you still play April Fools Day jokes on others, or do others on you?

What follows isn't a joke, but I sometimes see humor in unusual places.

I'm less than pleased with the consolidation in one place of personal information increasingly collected based on my internet computer usage. I've made some changes, but it will be interesting to see what happens with the advertisements that appear on my email accounts as time progresses.

Even before my computer use adjustments, what I wrote must have kept the master computer confused about my interests. Consequently, I've been amused by those far-fetched automatically generated ads appearing on my email accounts. I was startled to notice a link for free wild hog hunting in Texas, so when it continued for weeks I figured Texas must really be overrun with pigs. Eventually, I guess the computer figured I didn't want to travel to Texas when I didn't click on the link, or it decided to try a locale closer to where I live. So, the enticement increased with an offer for a free California pig hunting map -- later, more formally, a free boar hunting map (sounds sexist to me, but guess the sows are given a pass.)

During the months I've been pondering if I should undertake such a wild hog hunt, they switched the link to big game hunting in Canada. This took some serious thought. What sort of weapon would I need -- a bow and arrow, or would a firearm be better? I hadn't fired an Army 45, 22 rifle, or 12 gauge shotgun for over fifty years, and even then hadn't been on a hunting trip when I pulled those triggers. Should I get a 30.06 that I've heard about, or do they have other more suitable calibers now? But...I don't like to kill creatures, much less simply for pleasure.

Fortunately, about that time, the wild hog and big game hunting links stopped appearing on my email accounts, but bet they wouldn't have if I had clicked on even one. The proffered links then progressed to trucking jobs -- right up my alley at this stage in my life. Or, the offer was for Isat preparation? These were soon followed by so many choices that I just didn't know which one to pick: attending film school in nyc, getting a cia intelligence degree sounded really exciting, training to be a chiropractor, getting nursing training or becoming a physical therapy aide -- all opportunities just when I'm well past traditional retirement ages.

And then, there are the ads for medications they want to sell me -- all based on various internet searches I've made, I guess, for the multiple diseases, symptoms, ailments, prescribed medicines associated with some of my patients that I need to know about, or some I've heard mentioned that I'm just curious about. There is such a thing as more information than is wanted at times.

I'll be quite content to be entertained with the ads they give me, however far removed from my interests, since I have no intention of voluntarily providing any more specific information about myself. Privacy may be a thing of the past, as has been said, but I continue to insist on wanting the option of whether or not to release my personal information -- how much, to whom, and when.