Friday, December 31, 2010


After shopping in misty rain for organic vegetables and fruit at the Santa Rosa Farm Market the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we set off for the Eastern Sierras in our Subaru Outback equipped with four wheel drive and all weather tires.  The weather pundits gave scary reports on the radio so we departed with some trepidation.  The rain stopped, started, drizzled and we essentially sailed along stopping for a picnic lunch at our regular stop, the Placerville city park.  Rose ran around and did her business, jumping back into the car.  Thirty minutes or so outside of Placerville we noticed snow laden trees, maples and others still with their Fall leaves.  

Soon the snow started to fall.  Just short of the summit, Echo, on Highway 50 traffic slowed to a crawl then stop.  Chain control and CHP to advise on travel.  Drivers seemed either very cautious, driving at 10 mph or zooming past, veering out into the oncoming lane at well over 50 mph.  Whew!  were we glad to reach Highway 89 where we could leave the less than sane drivers headed for Lake Tahoe.  As we neared Hope Valley the snow stopped falling, the roads were clear into Minden and Gardnerville, through the Walker River Canyon into Bridgeport.

Later we read in the Mammoth Times that the snowfall the week of Thanksgiving was the most in 25 years so everyone traveling for our Celebration aka Wedding dealt with snow and all its ramifications.  And just a day or so ago I heard that Mammoth Mountain has received more snow than ever recorded.  Do we really question that global climate change is here and accelerating?

Leaving Seattle was met with snow and deicing of the planes so arrival at the Reno Airport both Sunday and Monday was late.    

Anne, aka Auntie Fang to Rose, who left Seattle Sunday and is an experienced snow driver BE-ing from the Midwest, was guided through the treacherous Carson Valley and windy Walker River Canyon with the Full Moon to the Walker River Lodge.

We have been staying at the pet friendly Walker River Lodge for nearly 20 years now, experiencing being well cared for to being neglected.  Erinn, the daughter, has been rehabbing for the past few years, in the mode of her mom Mary.  We have noticed apprecitable improvements, like this year we got a new stove during our stay. 

Each year over Thanksgiving we rent the downstairs apartment. Two windows face East and two windows face the South to afford the viewing of the spectacular landscape which is depicted below. We continue to stay here not for the luxurious accommodations but rather the spectacular views and the wild creatures who show themselves to us.

I am drawn to Bridgeport for not only the beautiful nature surrounding the town of 500 or so inhabitants but for the familiar feel.  My only home, other than MuRefuge, where I was rooted was in a small town, Corwith, in North/mid Iowa with about this number of inhabitants.  My heart was broken leaving there, thus closing me to being rooted until my conscious decision to BE rooted here at MuRefuge.  

There is also the energetic feel of the area for me.  Bridgeport and the huge expanses of native grasses are surrounded by mountains.  This reminds me of BE-ing cradled in hands of the Divine.  I return to MuRefuge feeling cherished and rested as experienced returning from no other place.

Another draw to this small community in the Eastern Sierras is the lack of evidence of our fast paced culture with the ensuing progress.  Dwight always comments upon our return to Sonoma County about the poor air quality here.    Even though wood burning is prevalent in the Eastern Sierras there is little else to pollute the air.  Of course, there is traffic on Highway 395 but even that is sparse compared to the traffic here in Sonoma County.

This Belted Kingfisher we saw almost everyday some place along the Walker River near us. We observed the bird catching fish from the river as well as hunkered down in the bush during the inclement weather.  From this same window that we view this stunning bird fishing above the bridge, last year we observed a Bohemian Waxwing who is extremely rare according to the Birds of the Mono Basin: a listing of birds and their seasonal abundance compiled by the Mono Lake Committee and can be bought at the their store in Lee Vining for a mere $2.  We felt ever so fortunate to have seen this spectacular bird.   Huge flocks of  Black-billed Magpies are easily sighted.  These are gorgeous, gregarious birds and I love watching them.

Most winter days we can see the mink scurrying along the icy banks of the Walker River.  This year was no exception.  Dwight even got the above photograph after watching the mink move along the East bank of the river and meander East.  Rose watched Dwight go out and take the picture, then when she went for her walk not long after, she pulled to the spot she had seen Dwight stop.  You could see her thinking, "is this what he was taking a picture of?" as she sniffed the tracks.

Anne and I were finishing up breakfast one morning and she said, "I think there's a bird out there eating another bird."  Sure enough!  as I turned toward the South window, I could see this juvenile Red-tailed Hawk munching on a small bird.  The hawk watched us through the window.  I imagined the bird was mulling over whether to stay for an audience watching or leave for privacy of its meal enjoyment?
Most late mornings we would walk out the Twin Lakes' road with Rose.  Looking across the expanse of new snow covering what is lush native grasses in warmer weather, we can enjoy the above view of the Sawtooth Mountains.  Certainly a cause for celebration!

On the snowy morning the day after Thanksgiving, we bundled in the car to drive further out Twin Lakes road for a hike in the snow. We turn off at Doc and Al’s and just over the bridge park along the road that goes up to Buckeye Canyon.  The snow flakes are getting wetter, bigger but we all laugh thinking this is one great adventure.  The snow comes up to Rose’s belly so she leaps along seemingly enjoying herself as much as we are.

In the past returning from just such an outing, we have been fortunate to see both Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk and Ferruginous Hawk sitting on fence posts or skimming the expansive meadow for food.  This year was no exception; we saw juvenile Bald Eagle and several Red-tailed Hawks. 

When identifying the hawks and eagles, each year we refresh our identification skills.  This year armed with a page torn out of our Birds World: A Guide to Hawks seen in North America - Know Your Silhouettes we had an easier time identifying these magnificent birds. 

All of the above photographs were culled from the 500+ taken by four digital cameras: Anne's, Leigh and Steven's, Katie and Mike's, as well as Dwight's that I also used.  More photos will follow in Precious Water and in Celebration aka Wedding.  

Earlier this week with all the rain and wind
during the night this 17 year old Curly Willow
was uprooted

This picture seems to a metaphor for what is happening with this blog entry which has disappeared twice into cyberspace.  Given this blog entry's history I am unwilling to dink, as my brother who is no longer in physical form would say, with it.
Comments are appreciated.
even when life is not funny.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy New Year

Blooming 'White Christmas' Schlumbergera
with Tanis' Winter Solstice Haiku
For some (I BE-ing one, another Sandy Lagno Rose's 
interspecies communicator
as well as Tanis my baseball buddy aka Rose's Auntie T) 
the Winter Solstice is the beginning of the new year. 
This shortest day and longest night was celebrated this 
year by an event not happening since 1554.  Did our 
cloudiness allow you to see the lunar eclipse?  We here 
at MuRefuge were fortunate to catch periodic glimpses 
all of which was absolutely awesome thus beginning our 
new year with a silent celebratory bang, a bang not 
jarring for our Rose who does not like fireworks or any 
loud bangs whose source is not known to her. 
November, 2010 Full Moon as view looking East from our Bridgeport "home"

Following in Dewitt Jones' tradition of CELEBRATE WHAT'S RIGHT 
I'd like to celebrate some of this year's meaningful events for 
me and the lovely BE-ings in my life.  The most monumental event 
was Dwight and my 23 year celebration BE-ing together, aka 
wedding in Bridgeport this past November.  The pictured above 
Full Moon provided light for my girlfriend driving from the Reno 
airport South on Hwy. 395 throught the treacherous Carson Valley 
and windy Walker River Canyon.  More about those fabulous two+ 
weeks in the Eastern Sierras in this blog's next post.

Just this past Friday MLB network announced their Greatness 
in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards. Most Dependable? Ichiro, 
of course, said co-host Harold Reynolds.  Ichiro is my very 
favorite baseball player ever and was the only position player 
in Most Dependable Player category. Then there was the heart 
tugging Dallas Braden's embrace with his grandmother on 
Mother's Day after pitching a perfect game chosen as the 
Moment of the Year.  Josh Hamilton, the Texas Ranger's 
outfielder, was chosen the Player of the Year with his shortstop 
teammate, Elvis Andrus, honored as the Defensive Player of 
the Year.  Of course, the Giants walked away with a whopping 
five GIBBYs: Lincecum - Postseason Most Valuable Player, 
Wilson - Closer of the Year, Posey - Rookie of the Year, 
Bochy - Manager of the Year and Sabean (the longest-tenured 
general manager in the Major Leagues) - Executive of the Year.  
I rooted for the Rangers during the World Series BE-ing a fan of 
Ron Washington and Josh Hamilton fan, preferring American 
League Baseball.  All said however, I can and do appreciate 
well played baseball.  And I cheer when players with integrity 
and BE-ing character honored . . . no matter their affiliation.

And then there's all the wondrous BE-ings who supported 
my first year of talks/tours here at MuRefuge.  First and 
foremost is Jenny Blaker of the Cotati Creek Critters who is so supportive 
of the process here at MuRefuge.  

Then there is Vickie Rodriguez, my very own, very best 
cheerleader who attended every one of the talk/tours 
as well as assisted me in ready for each one with her 
delightful, incredible enjoyment of weeding.  Overflowing 
gratitude to you Vickie!  

And Rosolio Nava, who mows and weed whacks always 
attentive to my choice of what is in need of trimming, is truly 
a find.  Thank you cannot begin to express my feelings.  
He is also the muscle behind the almost completed rebuilding 
all of our vegetable beds. 

AND to each of you who attended the talk/tours  
inspite of unseasonable weather for several I want to express my 
deepest thanks!  Of course, I cannot leave this arena without 
expressing my heartfelt appreciation for all of Dwight's support 
as well as the photos he has taken, organized and assisted my 
learning of his digital camera and iPhoto.  How would we BE 
without each other in our lives?

My 96 year old mother departed her physical form in October.  
She has been ill for some years.  Her spirit has now joined 
my stepfather's and my brother's.  I miss them all. The gift of 
their passing is remembering impermance is the cycle of 
physical form.

There are friends and acquaintances who are doing "good work".  
You can visit their web sites:
Harmony creates the most beautiful organic fabric and has an 
equally beautiful blog. Please check out

At you not only can access what 
plants they have for sale but helpful lists for transforming one's 
garden into a whole ecolgy.  The energy of their place is healing, 
the staff incredibly helpful in answering diverse questions about 
gardening and their plants

From I order seeds for native plants.  
The web site is filled with lovely pictures and useful information 
about getting started with natives.  The owner, Judith Larner Lowry, 
has written several riveting books as well a blog.

And then we have a proactive development in Rohnert Park . . . 
who would have thought!  
Sonoma Mountain Village (SOMO) is the first community in North 
America endorsed by the prestigious international One Planet 
Communities Program.

Last but not least, for those of you who are pre-, peri-, post- 
menophausal a fellow RN and Certified Enneagram Teacher 
has a well written, informative blog with her own absolutely 
stunning photographs.    I encourage you to check out 
Lynette Sheppard's site

For our Winter Solstice New Year celebratory lunch Dwight 
and I made a tasty dessert. 

Oranges with Pomegranate Seeds:

  • 6 organic navel oranges (purchased from one of my favorite vendors Twin Peaks)
  • 1 organic lemon (I prefer Meyer's also purchased from Twin Peaks)
  • 1 large pomagranate (pick out the one that feels the heavest, of course, organic preferred)

  • 3 organic peppermint tea bags

  • 1/3 C. organic maple syrup (1/2 C. if the oranges aren't very sweet)
  • 1  2 inch organic cinnamon stick
  • a dozen organic whole cloves
  • 8 to 12 whole organic cardamon seeds

Score the whole pomagrante in quarters then tear open under water in a very large bowl filled with cold water.
Pomagranate juice STAINS!  Gently tease the seeds out of the rind.  Throw away the rind and the seeds will
sink to the bottom.

Place half the seeds in a serving bowl, the other half squeeze the seeds with your fist or wooden spoon you don't
mind getting stained.

Peel one of the navel oranges and a Meyer's lemon with a potato peeler.  Chop, I use our handy Chinese cleaver,
into desired bits, I like mine smaller and the author of the original recipe (located in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone) likes hers quite large.  Punge for 10 seconds into boiling water then strain.  Also, peel the remaining oranges then slice and quarter, adding them to the pretty serving bowl with the pomagranate seeds.

In a small saucepan add 1 C. water,  maple syrup, spices and citrus peel from above then bring to a boil, remove from heat and add the tea bags, cover for 15 minutes.  Pour this over the sliced oranges and pomagrante seeds in the pretty serving bowl.  Add the pomagranate juice.  Let set at room temperature for several hours to allow the flavors to merge.

I am looking forward to your comments of gratitude, thankfulness at this time of rejoicing in the Winter Solstice New Year.

keep laughing
even when it's not funny

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Everything / Nothing

The dormant season is over. The rainy season has arrived here at MuRefuge . . . 
seems early to me yet I am grateful for all the moisture since planting all the
natives this Fall is now easy, almost effortless.  After a visit to Mostly Natives in Tomales, enjoying their 30% off all plants 
this month, I have many additions for MuRefuge's plant list started last Winter.  

And after gathering seeds from the native bunch grasses, planting them a couple 
of months ago onto in the seed planters, the expansion of the bunch grass prairies-- 
well, the plantings seems pretty minuscule to be called prairies-- is happening in 
the moist soil.  Those planted out last weekend in the rain are already putting 
up new grass shoots . . . nothing short of awesome!

MU by Micah Schwaberow and Sanae Nakajima
 A Christmas present for Dwight.

After moving into our house, we wanted to have a name for our place where we 
decided to put down roots.  Many labels were tried out.  "Refuge" seemed to want 
to be a part of the name.  What else?  Then we happened on "Mu" which is 
Japanese for "everything" and "nothing," embracing the whole, demonstrating 
polarity not opposites.  This Japanese word Mu seemed to say it all . . . 
our small plot of land with nothing, yet providing everything.  Several years 
later we received an invitation to attend "Asking the Way" featuring MIcah 
Schwaberow and Sanae Nakajima's absolutely stunning work at the Ren Brown 
Collection Gallery  One piece of their collaborative 
work enhances our entryway.

My brother, Tom
His daughter, Callie
Her daughter, Addie
with Mom, 96 years old this past July 4th,
who left her physical form a few weeks ago

even when things aren't funny

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Baseball: my other life. Part II

October 8  
"Exile has helped me.  When, at some point in our lives, we meet a real tragedy - which could happen to any one of us - we can react in two ways.  Obviously, we can lose hope, let ourselves slip into discouragement, into alcohol , drug, and unending sadness.  Or else we can wake ourselves up, discover in ourselves an energy that was hidden there, and act with more clarity, more force."
From The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  Complied and editedby Renuka Singh.

Tranquility by Dwight
Watching October baseball (and rooting for the Texas Rangers because they won the American League West, I like Ron Washington and his commitment to "playing the game right way", and Josh Hamilton, hopefully the American League MVP), I am drawn to share with you the latter's book, Beyond Baseball: Finding the Strength to Come Back with Tim Keown.

Several months ago I was walking through our local bookstore on my way to Main Street. 
I was drawn to a table with baseball books and my focus fell on Josh Hamilton's picture on the book noted above.  During baseball season I usually do not read baseball books, saving them for enjoyment during the "off" season.   Nolan Ryan says on the back cover, "Josh is one of the most talented baseball players I've ever seen, but his life experiences transcend baseball.  His ability to be one of the best players in the game after all he's been though is amazing and inspiring for everyone who knows his story."  I was hooked! making this book the exception.  Upon arriving home, I put Josh's book on "hold' at our local library system.  About a month later it arrived for my pickup and immediate consumption.

I am a sucker for happy endings.  And I know this book had a happy ending because I saw him in the 2009 Home Run Derby in fine form.  I found the book riveting, enlightening and tragic all at once.

Flowering Clarkia with Balls

Josh tells of meeting Clay Council, who was his pitcher in the 2009 Home Run Derby, at the age of 13.  Clay was 60ish and worked at the Raleigh-Durham airport spending "much of his free time helping kids.  He loved baseball more than anything in the world. . . I never felt as happy as I did when I was on the ball field and he looked like he felt the same way. . . .  After I got drafted, I saw Clay on the the field during a Legion game and I told him right there.  If I ever get asked to be in the Home Run Derby, I'm going to ask you to throw to me."  The first call Josh made after the call he received asking him if he wanted to participate in the 2009 Home Run Derby in Yankee Stadium was to Clay Council.  Watching the first round of the Derby was so exciting:  Clay threw, Josh hit home runs!

In this book Josh shares his visions, literally, of Light/good (God in his words) and Dark/evil (devil in Josh's paradigm), and his descent into darkness where consumption first of cocaine then crack became his addiction. His family saddened and despaired.  
With his maternal grandmother as a rudder, the Bible and God as a beacon, Josh manage to turn his back on drugs and once again embrace baseball, honoring God constantly.  
How this young man has touched the lives of many is joyous, as well as how he was befriended by his Texas Rangers team mates especially Hank Blalock, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young.  And for those of you who remember watching the 2009 Home Run Derby, Milton Bradley coming out during Josh's monstrous home run hitting to wipe his brow.  Josh relates that he had not had friends until he became a part of the this professional baseball team.

Joy with Dwight

So I am enjoying all the postseason baseball, especially Josh Hamilton, who amazed all the baseball pundits with his ability to play after his recent stint on the DL.  When we are whole/in tune with All, The Divine, God, our natural abilities seem to be honed in way that as singular individual humans we cannot even imagine.  As the Dalai Lama says,  " we can wake ourselves up, discover in ourselves an energy that was hidden there, and act with more clarity, more force."  To me, Josh Hamilton is a living, breathing human exemplar of this process.

Rose in her Hug-A-Dog Harness


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Carpenter Bees and Pink Pearl Apples

A few days ago during our Fifth Season heat wave I hung a load of clothes out on the clothesline in the late afternoon to dry overnight.  The following day I gathered the dried clothes off the line.  Once inside beginning to fold up the clothes,  I heard a buzzing sound coming from inside a pair of jeans just removed from the clothesline.  Then I noticed four very large what looked like bumble bees flying around with buzzing continuing from the pair of jeans.  After about fifteen minutes of removing the flying insects outside and shaking the buzzing from the pair of jeans, I moved to the Bugs of Northern California by John Acorn, illustrations by Ian Sheldon in search of identifying these insects. On page 87 I found a picture of what I had just seen in bedroom . . . Carpenter Bees often misidentified as "big, black Bumble Bees."  This reference goes onto to explain these insects burrow into wood to make their nests,  but a pair of blue jeans?????

I thought Carpenter Bees were small.  I am so happy to have come face to face, so to speak, with real live Carpenter Bees!

Several weeks ago I drove with Rose to Pt. Reyes Station to pick Pink Pearls from my baseball buddy and dear friend's large apple tree.  Here at MuRefuge the two 10 year old Pink Pearl Apple trees' roots were eaten by gophers leaving nothing but listing stakes. The newly planted replacement trees are not yet producing enough apples to make a Winter's supply of applesauce.  A lovely excuse to visit Rose's Auntie T's magical place.  

Pearly colored skin and luscious marbled dark pink flesh identify this just right apple for pink applesauce.

No other word but abundance can describe what we picked and brought back to MuRefuge for our enjoyment.

The following day all these extraordinarily beautiful apples, my very favorite apple, this Pink Pearl, were made into applesauce. 

These quart jars were added to the pantry for Winter use.

Pink Pearl Applecake

  • 3 C. organic sprouted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 T. organic ground cinnamon
  • 4 organic duck eggs                                                              
  • 1 C. organic maple sugar
  • 1 C. organic ghee
  • 2/3 quart Pink Pearl Applesauce
  • 1/2 C. water or organic Kefir milk
  • 1 C. organic chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease with organic ghee a 9" by 13" cake pan, set aside.  In large mixing bowl add all dry ingredients and wisk.  In quart glass measuring cup add ghee and sugar, beating well with hand mixer until the sugar has dissolved, then add eggs, one at a time until well beaten.  Make well in the dry ingredients into which pour the egg mixture and applesauce, nuts too if you have chosen to include them in your cake.  Mix well and pour into greased cake pan.  Spinkle with  cinnamon and maple sugar (1:4 ratio) and set in oven to bake for 35" to 45" when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes clean.  I often serve this for breakfast with the remainder of the quart of Pink Pearl Applesauce warmed and pour over each individual piece.  This will provide 10 generous servings.

Please add your comments below on your experiences with beneficial insects, food preservation or heirloom apple cultivation.  Your experiences with gophers would be an addition, as well.