This is the best year yet for the strawberries. They get more sun since I trimmed the apple tree. The plants were here when we bought the house twenty years ago and have proliferated in my rock garden with miniature pines and variegated iris.Read More
Long term Unemployment-- What about it? I know a little about being unemployed. In the 80s I was out of work for eight months when Microsoft dropped PC DOS on the market and everyone in the computing industry either adapted or dropped out of business. Couple that event with an untimely exit from my employer, something which unqualified me for unemployment benefits. So-- I scrambled.Read More
The last week of November, Bruce and I drove to Dorris to have Mexican lunch. By the time we arrived at noon, the freezing fog was burning off a ridge of mountains to the north, near the Oregon border where it spills over from Lower Klamath Lake.
A series of warm storms from the Pacific, called Pineapple Express, blew through, dropping a lot of rain, but no flooding here. A seasonal stream runs past our house, down Apple Street, from a spring higher up on the ridge behind the house. Wet, black, crinkled bark on oaks is fuzzing over with fresh, velvety, green moss. High 50-degrees F Low 43. 10-degrees C/6C.
Between squalls a ruby crowned kinglet flits about the Boston ivy berries.
Fresh and white, Mt Shasta, Baise Shan, dominates the sky, overlooking nearby McCloud while Christmas shopping for the baby granddaughter. Bruce found mantles for an Aladdin lantern. Happily, I found licorice shoelaces for the mouse tails, wound in a flat spiral.
McCloud is an unincorporated town, population 1,101. Hudson Bay trappers were the first documented white men to arrive at this location in 1829. Others followed, and in 1892 a lumber mill was built, combined with the construction of a railroad, and the fortunes of the locals improved. The mill closed in 1963, starting a gradual decline in jobs for families; it is now home to remaining locals and retired émigrés from the San Francisco bay area.
That night we spied on a sleek, Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus in the backyard. Standing in the warm in the kitchen nook, we watched the fox zigzag from the compost pile across the railroad tie stairs and back up the grassy hill, disappearing into inky, green-black shadow. The common gray fox has been crowded out of its habitat in the eastern US but is dominant in the west. An noteworthy trait of the gray fox is its ability to climb trees, something it shares with Asian Raccoon dog. This allows it to escape predators such as domestic dogs and the coyote. They mate for life.
Tree-lighting in downtown lasts only a few minutes. The Garden Club decorates a tree and provides cookies and cocoa. Santa (Big Dave our neighbor and city councilman) and Mrs Claus (Tammy) entertain the children while we try singing Jingle Bells in the freezing cold.
BREAKFAST LETTER TRAVELOGUE
Feng, from Beijing, was attending a meeting in Guilin in Quangxi province last month. She’s sharing her images with us.
“the pic which looks like meat are some stones, haha, it is very Realistic, the next is Longsheng terraced, there is some water , Yangshuo Yulong River rafting Guangxi scenery - Hongyao long-haired woman I want to recommend,u can see some pics: http://www.17u.com/blog/article/1049748.html good luck! expect for see u again here! Fh”
This link is to a 23 minute long video from the tourist bureau in Yangshuoren, amazing and gorgeous production values preceded by 30-second animated trailer or ad in Chinese.
More fun for Chinese culture fans:
click on Christmas card from Feng. If you have your own QQ account, click on the orange buttons. If not, click on blue characters below orange buttons.
I’m skipping the book feature this month, instead attaching files of Duncan the Steam Engine stories Bruce made for children to enjoy at Christmas over the years. We’re calling this collection The Best of Duncun. 2013 production is scheduling an international theme with Duncan visits cities of the World. The scenes are shot on Bruce's HO layout.
See you later
Day after gorgeous day, beautiful fall colors of the leaves. The bonsai/penjing in training Japanese Princess Persimmon made three miniature fruit, coloring orange as the small leaves drop.
Driving around town, through Tauhindauli Park, I saw the historic marker: Upper Soda Springs Campsite of Indians and Hudson Bay Trappers and Popular resort on California-Oregon trail 1857-1920 although research reveals the HBT were operating in the area as early as 1834.
My son James, wife Amy and three-year-old daughter Maddie visited, and we had a snow day at Bunny Flat. Only a scant few inches to make snow angels, enough for us to have fun. More snow to come…
While waiting in line at the pharmacy, I met Prof. Don Eads. We were pleasantly surprised to discover: he taught at Peking University at the same time I was working at Tsinghua University in Beijing last year. What are the chances…
Dr. Don is a complex renaissance man, born and raised in Hawaii, childhood chum of Barry Barak Obama. Dr. Eads has an impressive profile if you’re interested: International coordinator at Tony Robbins Foundation. He’s in Mt Shasta to record a CD of his contemporary, Hawaiian-style music. Recorded in Beijing
Dr. Don’s organizing Global Aloha Day for 12-12-12. The idea is ‘hanging loose with your ohana (family) Hawaiian style, talking story, being kind, sharing and eating. Deeper reflections are encouraged. Aloha is a way of life.”
Thanksgiving dinner started at 2pm at Lynn and Linda Price’s house.
Conversation nibbles: crackers, cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, spiced Sicilian olives
Nutty textured cranberry-orange jello with citrus sauce
Yukon gold mashed (not whipped) potatoes with turkey gravy, of course
Homemade (in two homes) whole wheat croissants
Mashed yams with pineapple
Artisanal apple (from Petty's tree), pecan dressing
Green bean casserole with crunchy onions
Pumpkin pie made with jam
Champagne, wine, and power aid
After dinner we went downstairs to look at Linda’s Store, Boxcar Gallery. I tried on a vintage blue/purple leather dress by Bill Morgan of North Beach Leather with a short, circular skirt, padded shoulders and long sleeves. Don Eads was attracted to the vintage 60s Fillmore posters, looking for bands he might have played with. Then he sat at a 1926 Brambach Baby Grand Piano, previously owned by Sam Mazzei, local Dunsmuir musician. Linda and I were astonished Don had heard of the Hottentot Band of Sam Mazzei’s from the 40s.
I’ve got 2 books for this blog. The recent unsettling developments between Israel and Gaza are more understandable since I read The Spirit of Cities by Daniel Bell. Jerusalem is the first of nine cities revealed in a personal consideration of the ethos or values in this scholarly travelogue.
The Spirit of Cities
Why the Identity of a City Matters in a Global Age
Post on amazon
By Daniel A. Bell and Avner de-Shalit
I met Daniel Bell online last year when I was applying for a job at Tsinghua University. Mr Bell was referred to me by my alma mater UCLA’s Chinese Studies Center as a contact at Tsinghua in the Philosophy Department.
This book, 346 pages, challenges reader to remember favorite cities and to match impressions and memories with Bell and de-Shalit’s personal and analytical abstracts of nine great cities and their distinguishing ethos: Jerusalem (religion), Montreal (language), Singapore (nation building), Hong Kong (materialism), Beijing (political power), Oxford (learning), Berlin (tolerance) and New York (ambition). It is available from Princeton at http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9544.htmlat Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Cities-Identity-Matters-Global/dp/069115144X.
Rise of the Red Engineers
The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China’s New Class
Post on amazon
By Joel Andreas
The history of Tsinghua University and the history of China are closely twined. One of the last things done by the old dynasty was to deed a portion of the royal Summer Garden to Tsinghua and other universities in 1911. Since then the fate of the country and the university unfolds ensemble. As such, it provides an opportunity to view events within a context. It starts with the building of socialism: the formation of the political foundations of class power beginning in December 1948 as Communist troops advance on Beijing and arrive at Tsinghua University. Cadres take over control and a simmering conflict emerges between the old elites, professors and students, and Mao’s politically connected veteran soldiers. Who has political and cultural capital and who doesn’t, who has what kind of credentials of family origin or educational status, who is a party member and not: all this combines into a fascinating, high-stakes story revealed in painstaking academic research and impeccable survey results.
344 pages, the book is available from Stanford at http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=16889 and at Amazon.com
A synopsis of the book is attached. Red Enginers synopsis
See you later
Artwalk last weekend was a huge success from the number of visitors estimated at over 400. I got to exhibit with two friends of mine: Joy Price-watercolor http://siskiyouartscouncil.org/joy-price/ , and Dorthea Schoenstien-oil.http://siskiyouartscouncil.org/dorothea-barlett-schoenstein/ You can see us in the city council chamber for the day.
Birds are on a feeding frenzy: hummers, their fat little bellies pressed against the feeder rail, sucking down the sugar water. Blue and scrub jays call out to Bruce, “peep-squawk” “feed-me-peanuts.” The scrub jay can carry two nuts at once if they are small. It thinks it’s being clever, burying them on the edge of the compost pile in deep duff. I’m watching the whole time from my cozy nook in the kitchen.
Finches arrive in a cloud of fluttering, peeping wings, harvesting every last seed from the gaunt, bent sunflowers.
Everyday Bruce and I pick a 5-gallon bucket of apples and process them for our freezer. That means Bruce runs the ingenious hand-crank, mechanical peeler and slicer. We pack the apple slices into freezer bags with a little sugar, ready to make strudel or pie all winter. We have flats of whole, perfect apples in the shed where they should keep a long time in the cold. Mind you, these aren't any old apple. These are artisanal apples that hail back to the day when Dunsmuir provided fresh apples to the burgeoning population in San Francisco during the gold rush of 1849. The fragrant, juicy fruit have a faint blue tinge to the red, prominent now it has frosted, making them a deep purplish-red compared to the sunny golden red of summer and a delicious, apple-flavor that reminds you of what apples tasted like when you were a kid.
The first big winter storm swept through, Mt Shasta Baise Shan is white down into the tree line. Sixteen inches of snow fell at Crater Lake, Oregon. http://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm
In Dunsmuir today the sun is shining, its 50-degrees F (10 C), kids are walking home from school past my house.
Black-headed Oregon juncos have arrived. During the summer, they live high up in nearby mountains. The snow drives them down to Dunsmuir for the winter. They’re picking through the remnants of the dry, sunflower stalks.
Leaves on the oaks and maples are still mostly green with patches of gold. Here and there a red flame of dogwood or ash. The dead-looking, dry grass has sprouted fresh, green blades overnight.
In China the Golden Week and National holiday, Guoqing jie and Huangjin zhou, has passed. On October 1 Chinese celebrate the founding of their Peoples’ Republic of china in 1949, marking the first day of the week long vacation. Many Chinese travel to visit local and distant attractions during this most beautiful time of year. Forbes says Chinese consumers are shifting from luxuries to camping. Chinese media reports more than four million people visited the nationally monitored scenic spots, a rise of 23.7 percent from last year. Campsite tourism and scenic drives are a new trend for re-balancing their economy as the Chinese lurch towards a more sustainable growth factor.
Remember this summer, when I visited southern California? I got to see my family and a friend from Beijing, Feng, and her son, Alec, and her husband who was attending a conference in Anaheim. This woman befriended me at Tsinghua campus. She worked in the housing office and would help me with things because her English is very good and because she is good hearted. I was sorry to leave Feng and the many Chinese and ex-pat friends I made in the short ten months of my tenure. Writing this blog helps me massage that sore spot in my heart where Beijing sticks like a dart.
Feng tells me about her Golden Days outing with her family. She says, “The holiday is very relaxing and casual. I have a lot of fun chatting with friends, barbecuing outdoors, enjoying good scenery and delicious food. I love staying in the outskirts of town and didn't want to come back.”
These are Feng’s recipes for her family camping barbecue.
1. Lamb skewers Sheep hindquarters, the best little fat. Appropriate cut into small pieces (2 cm or 1-inch) marinated. Marinade: onion, white wine, salt, sugar, a little, put some dry chili marinade if you like spicy food. Add to the Marinade Drizzle a little oil. Generally marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Before grilling, sprinkle meat with some chili powder and cumin powder. Brush with any favorite sauce or dressing.
2. Grilled chicken wings Wings can be marinated with a ready-made barbecue sauce, pickling spices and mutton. Brush a small amount of honey on the outside skin will be crispier. You can use the Drizzle oil or not according to taste.
3. Grilled vegetables
Vegetables good to grill are mushrooms, beans, eggplant, garlic, leek, peppers, sweet potato slices, and potato chips. Brush a little cooking oil while they grill will cook them faster, but not easy to paste. Brush with any favorite sauce or dressing. Fast Flavors: butter + a little oil + a little sugar, spice powder, sprinkle on the vegetables some for the fragrance. Do not buy meat with flesh attached off-the-shelf. Some people like to buy chicken gristle + Chicken already skewered in the package for convenience.
Feng adds “The barbecue is very happy, but the photos are very few, people only enjoy the food!!! Ha-ha, it is very cold now, how fast this fall passes!”
Tao Te Ching Philosophical Interpretation By Feng GuangXing and Ms. Feng Jingwen
I received a book in the mail from my friend Feng. Holding the white and green bubble cushion China Postal envelope with red stamps, I was excited with anticipation at seeing her father and her sister’s book on Taoism had arrived.
Feng’s father was Dean of the Administrative Law Department at Northwestern College of Law and has published numerous academic books and journal papers. This book about Taoism is his first attempt to capture that elusive quality of the Tao. Also an author is Feng Jingwen, his daughter, who currently works as a faculty at the Law School of ShanXi University of Finance and Economics. Ms Feng is distinguished for having studied law, receiving a BS at the University of Shaanxi and a MS from the Law School at Shanxi University where she now works; she has published articles in the Social Science Journal.
I asked Feng, what is it about? Water: The best of humanity is like water, which benefits all things and does not contend against them, which runs in places others disdain, abiding within flow. 上善若水。水善利万物而不争，处众人之所恶，故几于道。
348 pages, this book can be purchased from Shaanxi people's Publishing House ‘issued section.’ Feng says, “In XI'AN my parents’ apartment has some books, if someone want to buy one. They only provide books, but can’t provide receipt. The publisher said because these kinds of books are professional, too bad sales, the author may sell books, but does not provide the invoice. He-he, Sounds a bit complicated.” If anyone wants to get a book from Feng, let me know and I will forward your request to her.
After the first strong rain, Oregon stream fairies can be glimpsed standing in ditches next to roads looking ephemeral.
See you later
The beans have germinated. Basil, mesclun and black seeded simpson lettuce have been up for a few weeks. I live everyday to its fullest. Sitting on the front porch, late afternoon sun through a roll down screen and occasional puffy cloud, reading: (left to right) Flanders Panel by Perez-Reverie, Beijing city map, Age of Insight by Kandel http://news.columbia.edu/kandel , 2011 Journal, China's Political System by Zhongoing, 2010 Journal, Bonsai Focus, Short Stories by de Maupassant, sipping hong cha, unwinding after a long session on the internet, researching for Tsinghua.
Several Stellar blue jays nag us for peanuts every time we walk into the back yard. A scrub jay tries to bully his way in and take all the nuts.
When I go into my little studio nook, I am preparing for the next picture. Now I am testing different media. I want to see if I can use a red ground for most of the new design. I need to test how various media will react, latex paint, oil paint. Savoring every day.
The Overseas Office at Tsinghua found a replacement for me. I won't be going back in Fall although I am still working remotely, doing research from here.
This July 4 Bruce and I were visited by Yun from Mt View. The first day we drove up to the old ski bowl and picniced on Mt Shasta (Bai Shan) http://www.siskiyous.edu/shasta/out/ski/skibowl/index.htm
An avalanche destroyed it in 1978, but the road is still good and the old parking lot is a popular staging area for people climbing the mountain at 7,600 feet. The top of Mt Shasta (Bai Shan) is over 14,000 feet (4,267m).
The picture that looks like on the moon is actually from the parking lot at the old ski bowl. Few trees this high, only stunted specimens growing in the light pink andesite and crushed concrete from the old resort foundations. In the background you can see some white, that's snow behind the flag. We stopped on the way down so Yun could get a cup of snow. t's still in our freezer. The wide angle camera lens distorts the near ground in a hilarious way.
That night we drive up to the city of Mt Shasta and watch fireworks. It's a perfect night velvety warm, usually freezing cold after dark. The next day we visit the Mt Shasta Buddhist Abbey. They have five men and fifteen women studying to be monks/nuns. Thirty to forty lay people visit regular services on Sunday.
Tiny flick of a lizard tail under the old shed door just as I step outside. Sun has just gone down behind Mt Bradley. It is 85-degrees (29C) at seven-thirty pm, high 106-degrees (41C), inside the house its cooler 75-degrees (24C). We finally open the windows to get cool mountain breezes. low 59-degrees (15C)
I sometimes get home grown araucana chicken eggs from a friend in yoga class, $4 for a dozen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araucana The apples and pears are starting to weigh down the tree branches, still small, two fit into the palm of my hand. The peas are finished. I'm leaving them to make seed for next year. The pole beans are up a good 12-inches (30cm). The tallest sunflower is over 6-feet (182cm) taller than Bruce.
Can you see the bear trail on the right of the garden wall? I make ratatoille out of eggplant, peppers, onions, zucchini just like I used to in my Puji apartment in Beijing, Julia Child style. http://cooking.knopfdoubleday.com/2009/08/03/julia-childs-ratatouille-recipe/
See you later
The other day Bruce and I played hooky and drove to Gumboot Lake.http://creagrus.home.montereybay.com/CA-SIS-Gumboot.html Gas prices dropped to $4.05. Our internet connection was down and while we re-booted the wireless modem we relaxed at the lake.
There is still over 150 feet/46m of snow at the top of Mt. Shasta. http://www.shastaavalanche.org/ The drive to Gumboot Lake is only 40 minutes from my house in Dunsmuir but takes you above 6,000 feet/1830m. We took the road through the resort http://www.mountshastaresort.com/ behind Lake Siskiyou, past the Castle Lake turn off, all the way to the top near where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses. http://shastacascade.com/showrecord.asp?id=458
On the hike to the upper spring we chanced across a circle of pinecones and sticks arranged like a sun in the grassy meadow. Anemones and dodecatheon ‘Shooting Star’ bloomed in the moist stream margins. Mats of Phlox diffusa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlox_diffusa and some type of eriogonum grow together in a natural rock garden. Pedicularis densiflora ‘Indian Warrior’ are blooming just now. See it here at the feet of host plant manzanita, also flowering now at this altitude.
To celebrate the solstice Mary Jo and I visited Stewart Springs Spa.http://www.stewartmineralsprings.com/nodes/aboutus/ Their motto is ‘Soothe your Body Indulge your Soul.’ Their brochure offers, “Soothing private mineral baths, a wood burning sauna, cool river plunges, reflection and transformation gained from a traditional sweat lodge.” Mary Jo and I roasted in the sauna, wrapped in sheets while others sat in lotus position. The cool showers of natural spring water, full of silica, invigorated our skin. Gas is down to $3.93.
See you later
Suddenly, like a page torn out of a book, that's how life comes at you.
Walking on Apple Street hill, farther up, I find another road made for fiber optic installation, big red and white signs. Walking north on the new road, eventually, in a short distance, I come across where Roseburg Lumber http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roseburg_Forest_Products made a small irregular clear cut this past summer behind the Dunsmir Elementary School.http://sisnet.ssku.k12.ca.us/~desftp/
Now small trees about 2-3-feet tall (61 - 91cm), mostly yellow pine pinus ponderosa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_ponderosa , thickly dot the slope. Timber companies in California are not allowed to make clear cuts exceeding around 10-15 acres (4-6 hectares). Using best timber harvesting practices developed first in New Zealand, harvesters leave several large, mature trees here and there which can make cones with viable seeds. The outline of the cut is irregular, hidden from view of the public as much as possible. Piles of slag (debris, unusable logs and branches) remain for erosion control and wildlife habitat. http://cpr.ca.gov/cpr_report/Issues_and_Recommendations/Chapter_5_Resource_Conservation_and_Protection/RES21.html
Mountain Quail orortyx pictushttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Quail or Ring Tail Pheasant phasianus colchicus http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ring-necked_Pheasant/lifehistory/ac flutter up in a sudden cloud. The pheasant was introduced from Asia and is a popular game bird in the new world.
In the distance Mt Shasta is white with snow, BaiShan. I tie a red and yellow ribbon on the branch, marking where to turn down into the trees.
On Feb 26 2012 5 planets were in the night sky with the moon on the same night. I got a picture of the moon and two planets. I cropped to the closest planet, Jupiter. http://earthsky.org/tonight/see-all-five-visible-planets-in-the-february-evening-sky
The last shipping box arrived today from China. Full of art books and special colored and patterned papers for art collage.
Soon it will be spring. Every time it snows could be the last. Buds swell and push. Who knows what the Chinese characters mean?
See you later
I have alot of pix from my trip to California I want to share with you, so this week's letter is in parts. I have visited California and returned to Beijing. Wo kanwan Jalifunia he wo hui Beijing.
I saw Mt Shasta and painted by the ocean. Wo kanwan Bai Shan he wo huale dahai.
My friends gave me a warm welcome home. First party was at Cafe Maddalena, Bret and Nancy LaM. proprietors, in their darling outdoor patio courtyard under a grape arbor. There were a couple pix in last blog. Next, Nancy N. hosted a party at her house where more friends mingled in her backyard with the roses and Patti H. played her melodious harp! The epitome of August parties at Barbara C.'s cottage by the river, attended by a larger than usual crowd of locals, newbies and out of towners.
Bruce and I ran over to the coast for a short overnighter in Crescent City where I painted plein air by the sea. See last blog for details and pix. Back in Dunsmuir there was more mingling at the Saturday Farmer's Market, the heartbeat of tiny Dunsmuir, population less than 2,000. See Ron McC. in front of his hardware store in the historic downtown.
Richard duP. wrote up an article about my experiences in China with swell pix of Bruce and me laughing and smiling at each other. It was published in the little weekly Dunsmuir News.
Something else you might like to know about Dunsmuir is that bears roam at will throughout the town at night. They are very hard to photograph because their fur is like a black hole that sucks all light, leaving a black blob where the bear stands. The California Black Bear Ursus americanus is a small and common bear species. They eat anything, but they adore eating out of trash cans. This bear is thriving in North America and is not listed as threatened. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_black_bear
Barbara C., Helen C. and I spent a blissful afternoon at Gumboot, my favorite alpine lake, at 6050-feet elevation (1,844 m) it is only 40 minutes from Dunsmuir on a narrow, winding but paved road. At this elevation one can get above the humdrum of everyday living and gain a transcendental perspective.
Helen picked an armful of the yellow-flowered lotus, and I made a Chinese style brush painting of them. The California Yellow Pond Lily, Spatterdock or Nuphar lutem has fruit shaped like spools, similar to the Tsinghua lotus and provide habitat for aquatic insects, snakes, turtles frogs, salamanders, beaver, muskrat, ducks and geese. http://www.blackwaterphoto.com/Dragonflies/Skimmers/Four-spotted-Skimmer/8260242_yP9d4/1/540473912_S6734#540473912_S6734http://creagrus.home.montereybay.com/CA-SIS-Gumboot.html
Mt Shasta, elevation 14,179-feet (4,322m) is named "White Mountain" in the Native American Karuk language, and I have named it Bai Shan in Chinese. Hard to pin down the origin of the word "shasta" but possibly Russian Tchastal, meaning white, clean, pure, from early Russian settlers in California. It is a dormant volcano and has seven glaciers, the four largest are Whitney, Bolam, Hotlum and Wintun. Oddly, these glaciers have been growing during this period of global warming when almost all others have been receding. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Shasta
Hui tou jian