Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Change In The Weather

It was bound to happen. These beautiful fall days are about to draw to a chilling end Sunday night. The daytime temps have been in the high 70s and low 80s for the month, but tonight it is supposed to drop down to 36 degrees and tomorrow's high is forecast to be 50 and rainy. That is quite a dramatic change, one that would have startled these deliciously ripe tomatoes out there on their warm and comfy vines. So we harvested them, and the last of the butternut squash out there. We have already made and frozen enough tomato sauce to last until next year's harvest, but we can't bear to let these beauties go to waste. So, Monday's project is more sauce.

We still have zinnias blooming in the yard, and all the bees, butterflies, and praying mantises have found their way to them. There's drama on the flower tops, and camouflage in the leaves. Soon all of this will be gone, including the zinnias. The colors are leaving. The leaves are falling. Winter's closing in.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I, The Jury, not

i reported this morning at 8:30 am to the nevada county courthouse for jury duty. the last time i had jury duty was in 1966. i did get a summons 2 years ago but was excused as i had just begun chemo treatment for colon cancer.

today's case was a bit unusual. it was a civil proceeding to determine if the county could show beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard for criminal cases, that a woman was seriously enough disabled by mental problems to be put into a conservatorship by the county. i was not among the first eighteen called from the jury pool. the rest of us, maybe 35 or 40, watched and listened to the judge and opposing attorneys question the eighteen. after one prospect was dismissed for cause and seven more dismissed without prejudice by the attorneys their places were filled from the pool. one of those called was robert mack. as i pondered whether i should ask if the name was actually roger mack a man from somewhere behind me walked down to the jury seats.

in due time several of the replacements were dismissed and i and others took their places. robert mack and i exchanged smiles as i took my place. the judge immediately asked me if robert and i were related. i said not. the judge and the attorneys asked our new group fewer questions than they had asked the others. maybe they were tired. i guessed that one of us might get dismissed for cause. didn't happen. she was dismissed peremptorily, as were several others i had suspected would be. the attorney for the woman seeking to not be placed in conservatorship used his final peremptory challenge to dismiss me.

there was considerable conversation between the judge, the attorneys and the prospective jurors during voir dire about psychiatric treatment, psychotropic drugs, marijuana, and the nature of a conservatorship. the juror dismissed for cause said that she didn't see psychiatry as sufficiently grounded in science. i thought that was tactful.

i did already know that the questioning of prospective jurors is called void dire. i did not know till just now that it means "to speak the truth" in french. and how did that creep into our law system, based as it is on english law?

the judge and both attorneys impressed upon us that the woman in question entered the courtroom assumed to be competent. i liked that. i was impressed that they also thanked us often for being there and repeated their commitment to a seating an unbiased jury.

i had time to examine my own thoughts about involuntary conservatorships. here was a woman, described by the county counsel as kind and sweet, who was willing to sit in court and be judged by strangers because she wanted to run her own life. over there were presumably kind, well-intentioned professional helpers who were going to testify that she was incompetent to do so. to feed, clothe, and house herself. i assumed that they would have to include testimony about her actions as well as about their assessments of her mental state.

my other two experiences on jury duty were easy in comparison. in sum, if you don't want to read the other post, the murder verdict was easy because there was no real evidence. the civil trial was even easier. the state's agent was stingy. while i was fully prepared to serve on this jury i am relieved that i will not have to make that decision.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Anniversary Walk

October 17th is the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake and our wedding anniversary. We got married three years after the earthquake, and picked that date for the earth shaking event that our wedding was. Hah! I've written about it here on the blog.
So, today we celebrated our 21st anniversary by taking a nice long walk up the Yuba River to Hoyt's Crossing. It's a 1.2 mile walk in to the beach. The South Yuba River Park Association says this about the trail, "Numerous down trails lead off the main trail to small beaches, smooth, water-sculpted granite perches, and pristine swimming holes." All true, it's beautiful even when the river is low at the end of the dry season. The granite and sunlight, the crazy clear water creating caustic rainbows, the sound of water flowing over giant boulders. It's a delight for the senses.
We were the only ones around, and despite the Hoyt Sign prohibition against CLOTHING, we kept our clothes on. We played a bit on the rocks like little kids, climbing around and acting goofy, getting to the top of smooth granite boulders and sliding down on our butts. Let me tell you it's fun to be ten years old again for five minutes.

We were lucky too to see these beautiful displays of caustics. The way the light and water interact is pretty spectacular. It doesn't always look like this, but when it does it makes me wish I were an artist of some sort, so I could try recreate this and hang it on the wall.
I think I would like a house to look as if it had been painted by someone who watched light and clouds and water. The natural world has color displays in places that you would never expect it. Who would look for shiny-rainbow-y peacock feather-like swirls in the shallows of a river? We do! We do!
The mountains are in full fall mode here too. We were surprised by these autumn colors. The day was warm and bright, and we had a perfect anniversary walk.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Images Of The Real World

There's so much going on in the "political reality" of our world.  I was going to call it the "real world" but it's not. So, here's what we've seen in the real world lately.

 An uncommonly beautiful Common Buckeye.
 Bear tracks across the irrigation ditch.
 An Acmon Blue butterfly simply being beautiful.
 A coyote looking back at me when I shouted hello.
 A circumzenithal arc with crepuscular rays and shadows.
Iridescent clouds that no one else looked at, even though they could have just by turning their eyes skyward.

Remember that headache I had in August 2011?
The neurologist said I had "an event."
The residual effect is that I stopped feeling burns. This 2nd degree burn is from extremely hot oil that spattered when I was making homemade felafel the other day. I felt it happen, and then NEVER felt it again. That's my real world.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

King Salmon Run Up The Yuba

Roger and I did something we hardly ever do. We joined a group of strangers on the banks of the lower Yuba River to watch the King Salmon run. I read about it in the local online press last month and registered us for Saturday morning (10/5). We drove about 40 miles to get to this spot. We didn't know what to expect, and were a bit surprised to have two reps from California Fish and Game come and spend time talking about the crazy life of salmon.
You can barely make out the tail of this salmon making its way up the river. The Fish and Game folks explained that these salmon are probably from the Feather River, but come to the Yuba to spawn. I'm pretty sure he said only one or two salmon that actually hatch here, survive to make it back. The rest are from out of town, so to speak.
When we weren't trying to spot these tail-flipping giants on their biological way to salmon nirvana, we were treated to the sight of osprey overhead. We hadn't seen osprey in a very long time. They were quite beautiful against the cloudless blue sky.
The best and most soulful view we had of these salmon was of their dead bodies along the shore. I'm sure when we crazy tourists leave, the vultures come and have a monstrously good picnic.

It's interesting to think of such a compelling life history, to be biologically driven to make this journey from the sea to reproduce and to die. We come to watch them, to be a witness to the power of their genetic message. At least that's why Roger and I were there. Some of the others were there to watch and talk about how delicious salmon are when they're freshly caught and barbecued.

Ps-- Remember that pic I took of the lenticular cloud with lacunosus? I sent it to the Cloud Appreciation Society and they published it on their website. Wheee!