Thursday, February 28, 2013

I Don't Eat Mammals...continued

        I was enrolled in Enology, Organic Agriculture and a handful of Psychology and Counseling classes at CSU say that I was a gregarious soul is an understatement. I made a half-dozen new friends during my first week....we walked the furrows of our gardens barefoot, we had salads sprinkled with wheat germ nearly every evening and on the days that we didn't have class, we'd ride our bicycles to the lakeshore for some sunning, skinny dipping and frisbee. Ronald Ray-gun was the Governor of California and Life Was Good.
        During my two years in Fresno I evolved into a more serious,  poem crafting,  graduation directed,  odd job workaholic...I'd given up eating red meat and I invested most of my spare time in exploring the glorious mountains to the East. I rode my bicycle to Shaver Lake, and then to Huntington Lake, and then over Kaiser Pass to Florence Lake. A fellow poet said to me, "Have you ever backpacked in the Sierra Nevada?" We hitched to Mineral King and hiked to the Giant Forest. My life was changed.
        I have been living in, working in, swimming and exploring The Sierra Nevada Mountains of California for most of the last forty years. I also find time to just sit and watch......mountain lions, bear cubs, beaver, rabbits, birds and Pika. They all like the same places that I like. I'm seldom hungry, these critters spend most of their waking hours worrying about food, less time thinking about shelter. Having no natural fur or feathers, I invest more time in providing for warmth...for this reason, I am often a noisy and noxious interloper. I only cut dead wood. Living things are safe with me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I Don't Eat Mammals

       It's my dog's tenth birthday. It's my child's "twenty-third and a half" birthday. They are both glad that I am a Mafist...."one who does not eat mammals". Staying healthy has been the goal...something I really didn't give much thought to until my twenty-first birthday. I'd just started a summer job with Foremost McKesson in San Francisco as a "milkman".
        One of my fellow driver's told me,"Kid, you'll eat your lunch off the truck. That's because you'll never know where you'll be at lunchtime." I tilted my head a little, as he explained, "Things happen out there and every day is different...just bring a bag of corn chips to work and you'll be good." I figured it out pretty quick. I had a truck full of flavored sour creams and yogurts that, when combined with chips, helped me take in all of the food groups. Orange juice and buttermilk went well with blueberry yogurt followed by corn chips with onion and chives sour cream.
        To successfully deliver dairy products to thirty-five customers in the many neighborhoods that make up San Francisco during an eight hour shift,  I had to run, pushing a two-wheel handcart up and down thousands of steps every day. This was why Foremost hired young college students to act as "relief drivers" for summer employment. We had to run, collect "returns"...dated food, record everything in "the book" and take orders for the next trip...which might be three days away. Navigating the streets of San Francisco in a "bobtail" refrigerated truck on a different route everyday was a challenge greater than any job I'd held previous to the Summer of '71.
        What did this have to do with me giving up red meat? I had no social life for three and a half months. I drove from Walnut Creek to S.F. over the Bay Bridge at 3am in the morning...I returned home at 7pm. I didn't go to any barbecues or restaurants for fifteen weeks. I made "a ton" of money and returned to Cal State Fresno in mid-September as a lacto-vegetarian (so-labelled by the first person I talked to, on the first day of Enology class). "You'll definitely prefer the white wines." she informed me be continued........

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Positive About The Future

        How could I not be feeling great about the future....end of February, hints of Spring, birds singing like Italian women at an outdoor market. Due to the support of full time and part time Lake Almanor residents,  I can be sure that 2013 will be another year of solvency...We will get twenty years out of this cow....and the milk just keeps on coming.
        There are hazards, there are downturns and there is, most definitely, risk in operating a Main Street business in a tiny seasonal village yet, the rewards are numerous. No one was going to get rich selling kayaks and bicycles to villagers and tourists...I've always had a humble idea about the definition of: "a good living". This has been my way of getting my friends and neighbors out-of-doors, using their bodies to propel through life,  toward a strong and healthy retirement, for me and them.
       Once again, I had the realization that reclining in a chaise lounge, mint julep in hand, while reading a good book, isn't a's a vacation, valuable, but only precious because the rest of the year isn't like that. This is why I moved back to "snow country" almost three decades ago. Everything takes a break up here...mosquitoes, humidity, ticks, thievery and traffic.
        I'm going to say it again, we have built something here...a business, a house, a family, trust and peace of mind. You never know how many days you have left on this would be a tragedy to lose focus and perspective, by yanking up the roots and transplanting to a radically different climate or country for the sake of increased leisure and comfort...I'll have plenty of time to rest when I am dead.
        My friend and neighbor, Jack, has told me for twenty years, "Chuck, you have to keep moving, don't look back,  just keep pedaling forward and keep your mouth closed. You don't want to swallow anything with a stinger on it." Jack is 87 and has a new girlfriend...the locals are calling them Chester's "most experienced teenagers". With advisors like Jack setting the pace how can I not be positive about the future?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The First Mile Is Always The Toughest

       My 2013 exercise regimen started in earnest on Groundhog Day. It involves taking my ten year old Labrador on a three mile hike every morning up one of our neighborhood hills. Solo morning exercise usually puts me in somewhat of a trance...a state of creative thought, a stream of consciousness that is only interrupted by motor traffic or wildlife using the same lane.
       This is at least the thirtieth time I've resolved to get back into a regular pattern of cardiovascular exercise... after short lapses of slovenly behavior that include: eating, drinking and lounging during most of my waking hours, often clustered around the end-of-year holidays.  Never fails, I annually come back to the realization that it's the first mile of any aerobic outing that's the toughest.
        Fifty years ago, at age thirteen, I joined the high school cross country team. I was nine when we moved to the suburbs,  this was also the beginning of my battle with asthma.  Running and asthma combined to make efficient breathing my highest priority. Coach Spade always waited for us, stop watch in hand, at the one mile mark of our much longer training runs. He'd say, "Chuck, how is it going?" and my answer was always the same, "The first mile is always the toughest."
         A good syncopation between footfalls and oxygen intake would develop somewhere between mile two and mile three...just in time for me to start catching (picking off) the string of runners ahead of me. This was always too late for me to have impressive results in an actual meet. Over distance training runs were my forte. Any competitive rewards I might have felt were my own private victories...there were no medals for coming in third in a fourteen mile High School training run.

Friday, February 1, 2013

People Who Fix Things, With Their Hands!

          I don't believe the hype...Wall Street says, "Give us your $, everyone is going to get rich ."  I am a small business man (two hundred or less employees). Quite possibly the smallest Main St. business man (who owns his own building) in the country. I am not worried. I fix things with my hands.... fewer and fewer people know how to fix the things they own...for a decade they've been buying really cheap things and throwing them away when they stop working. The folly of this mode of operation is becoming more obvious by the day...subsequently,  people are looking for "those who fix things, with their hands".
          Working with your brain was once considered a valuable skill, however, we've developed machines that work day and night to learn and execute the tasks that once required brain power. Unemployment is an ugly doesn't mean your community is going to give you a handout, as it once did. It means you are not being useful in that community might be plopped down in front of the TV or another entertainment monitor... but,  your community could use you as a volunteer at the Hospice Care Thrift store, or in an Elder Care facility, or at the local Library. Or, if you have a "mechanic gene" you can go around your neighborhood fixing things. Word gets out quick, "Ask Chuck, maybe he can fix it."
           Being a good samaritan can still lead to gainful employment. There are people in your neighborhood that could use help...why wouldn't you?   Quite often,  Americans are too proud to ask, but if we go out and meet our neighbors it will result in a better neighborhood and therefore, a better world. We are all going to need help in the times ahead and our lives will be richer if we all work together. Wall Street only cares about your $, not your attitude when you wake up each morning.