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LGBTQ flag

A Rainbow on the Horizon

To all my LGBTQ friends and relatives: Hallelujah!

Perhaps all this was easy for me because I got to know real people who were different from me—and I liked them. They have enriched my life.

My journey from small town Iowa has been eye-opening. As a youth I was unaware that not everyone was like me. I knew that our community of 25,000 had a Jewish family that lived across the street from us and was well accepted. We had a black family that lived slightly out of town and were well respected. They were both just like me. One of my grandmothers, a widow who had worked at Hull House in Chicago, had raised my father by teaching in small towns throughout Iowa while they lived with families in the towns. She had been particularly focused on bringing education to the black families. She used to take me to black church services when I was very young. I thought we all were the same.

Imagine my surprise when out on a drive with my soon-to-be mother-in-law saw a black family playing on the lawn in a respectable part of town. She said, “Doesn’t that look terrible? This was my first encounter with racism. I knew nothing of same sex couples, but I am sure there were some around—or there were some who would have liked to be around.

Shortly thereafter my first husband and I moved to California: Palo Alto, to be specific, just south of San Francisco. In his first job as principal of a high school I met a teacher there who was gay. He was a lovely person who we got to know fairly well. No problem there. And soon I became aware of the Castro District in San Francisco.

I now have friends my age who have children living in same sex relationships. I have watched as they have seen their children blossom in a situation that is perfect just as I have watched others see their children find the perfect mate. I am happy for anyone who can find their perfect spot in the world.

Most recently in my older years I visited my mother in a retirement home. Across the hall from her apartment were two lovely women who had been together for more than forty years—Jo and Barbara. Eventually Jo ended up in the hospital and Barbara in the health care center. Barbara had no one close who could take her to visit Jo. Once when I was there I volunteered to take he to the hospital to visit Jo. It was a poignant and heart-wrenching visit and the last time she would see Jo.

The time has come to get on with love in life and to love it.


The Last Pine

I am saying farewell to an old tree.

I discovered Saratoga more than fifty years ago. But the tree and its two companions had already been here for more than half a century. To get to the quaint village from where I was teaching, I drove down two-lane Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road toward the mountains I loved, through orchards with apricots, prunes and plums on either side. They are long gone.

The village itself consisted of a Main Street about five or six blocks long. Turning right from Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road into the village, there were three huge pine trees on the left that marked the entrance to the village and marched on to the left down Saratoga-Los Gatos Road shading the historic route to another small foothill town. These pines were, and have continued to be, a source of pride and a symbol of the history of this still small town.

I moved to Saratoga in 1970, living in a small rental house along Saratoga Creek just a block from Main Street and the trees. Two years later we moved to the top of the mountain behind Saratoga. I have passed these pines almost every day since.

The pines have endured and sheltered Saratoga as it has grown from a small foothill town to an upscale suburb. Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road is now four lanes with freeway access and has changed its name to DeAnza Boulevard. In Cupertino where once there was only a grain elevator and a few small businesses, there now is a gigantic Apple campus. Main Street in Saratoga has changed but still maintains a small town feel–in spite of the Starbucks on the corner.

It is right next to this Starbucks where they just took down the last of the iconic pines. Italian Stone Pines do not last as long as redwoods and these have endured many changes. The first to go happened a decade or two ago. That tree was hardly missed because the other two had grown so large. Then a few years ago during a very wet winter the second one started leaning dangerously and had to be taken out before it fell on nearby businesses. But this last tree remained, propped up with huge timbers, shading tables and a Wednesday farmers market.

But at last it has succumbed to drought or perhaps old age. It turned from green to brown. It will return to the earth from which it sprung leaving a hole in the sky and leaving us with a lingering knowledge of the changes that we must embrace both in our world and our selves.

Saratoga tree from CApoppy on Vimeo.


Going Batty

For many years I knew very little about bats. I knew they got into attics and that people had little time for them.

A few years ago, when I woke up just before dawn up here on the mountain, I sat drinking my coffee in the living room and looking out the window as parts of the mountain came alive and other parts went to sleep. Owls quit hooting and quail emerged. Suddenly lightening fast flashes streaked by outside the window. I was intrigued and sat transfixed. As dawn broke something landed on the flashing below the roof. It stayed for a moment, seemed to slip down, and then darted away. This happened repeatedly until final I could see it was a bat. What happened next was remarkable. Somehow this creature managed to hang on to the eaves and squeeze up under the flashing.

I got up early for the next few days and observed this same phenomenon repeatedly.  I had known Dave Johnston from my days of working with him at the Youth Science Institute. He had become a bat expert.  And I had come to appreciate the amazing place bats have in keeping the planet in balance. They eat up bugs at a phenomenal rate, are under appreciated and at risk. Gordon, my husband who had built much of our furniture, understood this and found plans for building a bat house. He built one which we installed under the eaves by our porch. It had a grooved backboard which gives bats a “ladder” for climbing in and a slit which they can also use to access the interior.

Since then we have regularly provided hostel space for bats. Some years we have them; some years we don’t. But this year is good. We walk by them in daylight, knowing they are securely sleeping. And at night they swoop out and diminish our bug population. They are back! How do we know? You decide.




A Moving Experience

Neighbors, up here at the end of the road, who live two houses down are moving. They need to live closer to her elderly parents. The house sold and the time had come. Yesterday morning we saw a medium-sized moving truck coming up the mountain as we were going down. It was a large truck, but not one of those gigantic moving vans. Trucks that size frequently go up and down our narrow winding road, albeit slowly.

Then last evening about 7:00 the emails started flooding in from the folks in our Bohlman Road Yahoo group.

“Keith was on his way home and saw where a big truck lost his brakes and plowed into what we think is the garage of a house below the T-junction.   Fire trucks are there. “

“Hopefully, no one has been injured.”

At 9:30 this morning the truck was indeed still there, but the garage of the house was missing with parts of it dangling down the mountain slope beyond. By noon there was another truck there unloading the contents and reloading into another truck. I stopped to take pictures.

We have sometimes seen a small child riding a tricycle with her mother alongside in the driveway. At times there has been a car parked in the drive. The garage is just uphill and attached to the house. The wheels of the runaway truck missed the left wall of the garage by about two inches. Had it hit that wall it would have toppled over directly onto the roof of the house.

Viewing this scene is one of those times when the world pauses and all motion ceases.

June 6

Tow trucks came and took the truck. What was left this morning was the heart-stopping view of the shattered tiny pink bicycle so often seen on trips down the hill with a small child learning to ride. It had been under the truck. Miraculously everyone is okay.