A Tale of Two Bridges: The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridges of 1936 and 2013A Tale of Two Bridges: The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridges of 1936 and 2013 by Stephen D Mikesell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I got this book from the library, I did not list it here because I was not sure I would read it. But as I started reading, it became clear, I was hooked. It is not a page turner, but I found I needed to read a few more pages every night before I went to bed. Living in the Bay Area, I am well aware of this bridge and could envision the process of building and rebuilding it, even though I do not use it regularly. I am not technically aware of all the aspects discussed but gained a great appreciation for what was involved. And I could certainly relate the decisions and politics involved in the construction–especially the reconstruction since the earthquake. The book was fascinating and I will never be able to use this bridge, or any other, again with out a whole new perspective and appreciation for the wonders of the modern world.

View all my reviews

Mt. Umunhum

Gorgeous day. So I decided to drive to Mt. Umunhum, which has only been open to the public since last September. Mt. Umunhum is a signature site in the South Bay. For 10,000 years this mountain was treasured by native Americans. It was mined in the 1800s and became an Air Force Station in 1957 monitoring the Bay Areas during the Cold War. The signature tower is the only remanent that remains from this period. It can be seen from all over the South Bay.

In the 1990s, when I was at YSI (the Youth Science Institute) I was taken up to this site, which was not open to the public, by a County Parks Supervisor. At that time there were a number of buildings that had been abandoned by the military. She was hoping we could open a YSI site in one of them. But since it was more that a half hour drive up a winding mountains road, it did not see like a site that most people would be willing to access. It was a nice idea.

The mountain towers above the Bay Area at 3486 feet (a thousand feet above where we live at the top of another mountain). It has a 360 degree view of all the surrounding area including all of Silicon Valley, the coast and parts north and  south. And someday it may be part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail that is slowly taking place that may offer a trail that rivals the Appalachian Trail.

Even as a mountain woman, this site takes my breath away.

dandelions in flower and going to seed

What’s Wrong with Dandelions?

Am I stretching too far to see a political message here?

I spent some time today (and yesterday and other days) digging up dandelions by their roots. So why am I spending my time to get rid of an enduring yellow flower that takes absolutely no care? The rains have come and dandelions are sprouting up everywhere. I actually admire their tenacity and even think their small flowers are rather pretty. A couple have already started to bloom in this intemperate weather.

What is my problem? The airy globe of seeds they produce is not unattractive. It is blown off with a puff. It’s said that if you can blow all the seeds off with one blow, you are loved with a passionate love. If some seeds remain, your lover has reservations about the relationship. If a lot of the seeds still remain on the globe, you are not loved at all. Folklore says blowing the seeds off a dandelion carries your thoughts and dreams to your loved ones. Is there a reason for not loving these flowers for their beauty and tenacity? For not wanting strong winds to blow and sow them far and wide? Do they send us a message?

Their problem may come from the same traits that make them so durable. They will not be denied. They crop up everywhere, command space, and dig down deeply with their roots. They take over territory that does not allow other flowers to blossom and spread. Their message is strident and long-lasting. I allow them only because I cannot stop all of them. But I will continue to keep them under control lest they take over and not give the more delicate fauna a chance to temper their advance.




The Stranger in the Woods

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True HermitThe Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating true tale of a true hermit who lived totally alone and off the grid for thirty years. The author managed to connect with this intelligent man and get glimpses into what his life was like during all those year when he had absolutely no human contacts. For those of us who are not loners but understand the importance of living harmoniously within ourselves there insights here which can shed some light on our own existence and help us understand some of our own behaviors.

I think it is time for me to go walk on the trail awhile.

View all my reviews

New Beginnings

An immense stately Italian pine graced the entrance to the only main street through the small village of Saratoga when I first moved there forty-eight years ago. It was over a hundred years old at the time. Saratoga marked the end of the urban world that was forming as the once small towns in the valley started uniting to become a sprawling metropolis. It marked my continuing migration toward the mountains and watched over me as I found my place in those mountains.

For almost a half a century I passed that tree almost every day. At last in 2015 it became that tree’s time to return to the earth as we all must do someday. Every day after that, passing by that spot, I was aware of the hole in the air that remained.

But, just like the old tree almost two hundred years ago, a new tree had now sprung up and was waiting. It was time for a new beginning. May this newcomer prosper and watch over people like me a hundred years from now when I too have become part of the earth like the stately old pine. I will always remember that lovely old tree.

New Beginnings from CApoppy on Vimeo.

About Time

I hope the time has come. I too can add my story to the #MeToo chorus–a daring move for me as someone raised in mid-America in the middle class in the mid-century who learned that private matters should be kept private. I actually have two tales from many decades ago, long before there were brave women who started speaking out.

Perkins SchoolThe first incident, which I did not realize was an incident until some years later, took place when I was twelve. It was about 1952. I was in 6th grade in Glenna Gruetzmacher’s class at Perkins Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa. I had just started taking flute lessons. A male music teacher, not a regular teacher, came to the school once a week to give lessons. The small room where the lessons were given had been built at the top of the staircase that went from the first to the second floor. It was up a few steps from the second floor hall in the wasted space at the top of the stairwell. It had glass windows that faced out toward the interior hall, but since it was up a few steps, it only let light in. No one in the hall could see what was happening through these windows. During these lessons the flute teacher used to run his hands up and down my upper leg. I thought it was a little odd but never mentioned it to anyone, but I have never forgotten it.

This next incident harks back to my mid-twenties, more than fifty years ago. After I graduated from college, I married someone I had been dating for at least five years. We were both employed for a year after we were married when my first husband was accepted as a graduate student at Stanford. We moved to California and I found a job teaching high school in the Bay Area. It was exciting for us as we started exploring San Francisco and the area.

One week-end we went on an excursion to the City. One of my husband’s fraternity brothers from college lived there and we planned to overnight on Saturday at his place. We went out for dinner with him and returned to his apartment. We turned on the television and started watching, but my husband decided to call it a night. He had had a couple of drinks and was ready to retire the spare bedroom we were staying in. I continued talking to our friend and suddenly he was all over me–kissing me and pulling at my clothes. I was finally able to wrest myself out from under him and fled to the bedroom. I never mentioned this to anyone. Needless to say, I found reasons to never see him again. But I can still remember his name.

I realize that sexual attraction exists. But the equations have been skewed. Your consent + my consent = 100%; but your consent – my consent = 0%. It is time to set things straight.