Home and family,
hearth and health,
joy and contentment.

Smoke on the horizon,
fear on the wing
as acrid fumes descend.

The world splits into confusion.
Blacken sky alight
as winds rush down the hillside.

Running before the wind
the unknowable
falls all around.

Red trucks.
Red sky.
Red cross.

Safety for a time.
A meal to sustain.
Time to fear the dawn.

Stand in the ash
of what once was
while listening for the phoenix cry.


It’s fire season here in California and I’ve been reading news stories about the fire in Lake County.  It breaks your heart to see pictures of the damage.  The Clayton Fire is the second major fire in two years to hit the area.  Nearly an entire town is gone.

The area is home to Clear Lake and in better times was an important tourist destination.  Drought, fire, and declining tourism have had their effect on the area.  It’s sad to see this area descend into destruction.  One article counted the costs: lost homes, a church, lives and jobs.  Many people will now be homeless and jobless.

One story I read today was of an elderly woman whose mobile home was consumed by flame.  She won’t rebuild.  She can’t.  According to the story, she couldn’t afford to buy fire insurance, has no money, and now she waits in a shelter, moving between her cot and wheelchair.  Can you imagine such a fate?

There are more stories here, many worse, while some fared better.  Some will rebuild. Some will get new jobs. Someday the rains may return making the hills green again.


It’s easy to try to lay blame.  Last year’s fire was started by faulty electrical equipment, and this year’s by an arsonist.  In the past lightning, campers, and cars have lit the spark in these dry hills.  It’s doesn’t matter, this is the land of fire – to be Californian is to live with the constant risk of fire, earthquake, drought, flood, and landslide.

But it is also a place of great beauty.  Stand in Yosemite valley at the base of falls and drink in the power of nature.  Walk in the quiet of the forest.  Sit on the beach and watch the sunset.  Drink the wine aged in the oak barrels made on our golden hills.  Drive up the mountain at night, look out over the lights of the valley and marvel at the cities we’ve built.

Built at a price.

The price now being paid by a town and a woman in a wheelchair.


Posted in General, Poems | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Friday Wisdom – A Question of Bliss

If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?

More questions next week,

Posted in wisdom | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Wednesday Woodworking – Wire and Paint

Here is this week’s progress on the cutting garden.  Heather has been busy painting and on Saturday we put on the wire.

Paint on and wire up.

Paint on and wire up.

Start on the doors.

Start on the doors.

Example of the planter boxes that will go in the cage. There will be 9-12 of these. We're going to do a combination of flowers and some vegetables.

Example of the planter boxes that will go in the cage. There will be 9-12 of these. We’re going to do a combination of flowers and some vegetables.


We get a lot of wild animals wandering through our yard – in addition to cats we also have squirrels, raccoons, roof rats, and skunks.  All of which like to dig up and otherwise wreak havoc on our plantings.  So the cage is designed to keep all those folks out.  We got the idea from visiting the gardens at Filoli.  They’re near woodlands and have a section of gardens in deer proof cages.  Known as the cutting garden, these cages produce many of the cut flowers used in the main house.

This next week in the shop I have to circle back to the little libraries to finish up a few last details.

If you need me – I’ll be in the shop,

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

A Book to read – To Hunt a Sub

Instead of an essay this week I’d like to share a little news from fellow blogger, Jacqui Murray.  Her book, To Hunt a Sub is now available on Kindle.  She posts monthly over at Today’s Author, which is where I first saw her writing.  I’ve been following her progress on this book and am looking forward reading it.  It’s a big step to put your work out in public and I wish her all the best with this book.  Someday, my book might be available as well.

Here’s a summary of the book:

The USS Hampton SSN 767 quietly floated unseen a hundred fifty-two feet below the ocean’s surface. Despite its deadly nuclear-tipped arsenal of Trident missiles, its task for the past six months has been reconnaissance and surveillance. The biggest danger the crew faced was running out of olives for their pizza. That all changed one morning, four days before the end of the Hampton’s tour. Halfway through the Captain’s first morning coffee, every system on the submarine shut down. No navigation, no communication, and no defensive measures. Within minutes, the sub began a terrifying descent through the murky greys and blacks of the deep Atlantic and settled to the ocean floor five miles from Cuba and perilously close to the sub’s crush depth. When it missed its mandated contact, an emergency call went out to retired Navy intel officer, Zeke Rowe, top of his field before a botched mission left him physically crippled and psychologically shaken. Rowe quickly determined that the sub was the victim of a cybervirus secreted inside the sub’s top secret operating systems.  What Rowe couldn’t figure out was who did it or how to stop it sinking every other submarine in the American fleet.

Kali Delamagente is a struggling over-the-hill grad student who entered a DARPA cybersecurity competition as a desperate last hope to fund a sophisticated artificial intelligence she called Otto. Though her presentation imploded, she caught the attention of two people: a terrorist intent on destroying America and a rapt Dr. Zeke Rowe. An anonymous blank check to finish her research is quickly followed by multiple break-ins to her lab, a hack of her computer, the disappearance of her three-legged dog, and finally the kidnapping of her only son.

By all measures, Rowe and Delamagente are an unlikely duo. Rowe believes in brawn and Delamagente brains. To save the America they both love, they find a middle ground, guided with the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.


Just downloaded this one to my Kindle.

Just downloaded this one to my Kindle.

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

I follow Jacqui’s blog over at: Word Dreams

Till next time,

Posted in General, Writing | Tagged , | 17 Comments