Russian River May 2024

Russian River May 2024

Justin led us on a paddle from Steelhead Beach to Guerneville on a beautiful spring day. CFS was close to 900 so I took my pink kiwi but the current was not strong where the river was wide so I did a lot of paddling and was very tired when we got off the river at 3 p.m. The trip started with a competition for launch space at the put-in.

Inflatable Party Boat – No Paddles

Laurie Light and Justin loading up after Lunch

Liam

Liam said, “I haven’t seen you in a while, Anet, what’s going on?”
“You saw me three weeks ago at my house, Liam. At the party.”
“Oh, yeah.”

Deb

Beauty of the Russian River Highlights Canoe

That was the entire discussion of the party. When I posted these photos on the chat thread, I got only one response, from Liam, “Fun day on the r&r.”

Why did I bother to take the photos, Photoshop them and post them? Do I matter?

Deb Turns 70

Deb Turns 70

I worked for weeks to spruce up the house and the garden to host a Saturday lunchtime party to celebrate Deb’s 70th birthday, which also marked her retirement announcement. We invited all the boating regulars and several of Deb’s friends from the YMCA and her neighborhood. I hung the Market Canopy from India for a festive touch. Dahlias graced the wooden flower bins front and back. I polished up the front garden and planted kale and marigolds in the raised beds on the side. Potted some bright calendula. Put a red serape on a folding table.


I was pleased that everyone brought something to share. Lots of sweets from Deb’s girlfriends. One brought a fabulous salad with homemade vinaigrette that was gobbled up in a jiffy. Brent brought a beautiful veggie platter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The big thrill was the chocolate cake that Wayne made, and the chicken Parmesan that Justin (background) made. I cooked up some Trader Joe’s Lasagna that was popular.

 

Lori, Brent and Liam join Deb’s Friends

What I learned: No one sat in the living room, or at the kitchen table, or at the dining room table (which was unexpectedly covered with gift food), or on the teak settee in the back yard. The men sat at the little table covered with the serape. The plastic tablecloth clashed visually with the red Market Canopy. Justin’s dish required a knife and fork which was tricky on paper plates with plastic cutlery — chicken cut into bite-sized squares would have been easier. I should have used real plates because I had 11 guests. I used real forks for the cake.

No one asked for coffee. No one drank my beverages, they all brought their own, as requested. No one ate my sliced porcini or Mt. Tam cheese or sopresatta. It went 12 noon to 3pm.

Christmas 2023 Whalefall

Christmas 2023 Whalefall

Hiking Sole Sisters Spring Lake Christmas 2023

Hiked Spring Lake with the Sole Sisters, see me in the Santa Hat above. Afterwards, when the main hike was over, I led four of the ladies to see the warm sulfur spring that feeds Spring Lake.

Came home and finished Whalefall by Daniel Kraus, a very fast read because it was so absorbing. I hated Finnegan’s Wake because it was word salad, but as the main character, Jay, dissolves into nitrogen narcosis inside the diving whale, the jumbled words make sense. Whether he survives, how he survives is the “McGuffin” that drives the book. On the framework of the McGuffin that keeps us turning the pages, author Daniel Kraus hangs the story of a teen boy bedeviled by his attentive but abusive father and his loving but powerless mother and two older sisters. Jay is flashing back to when he was 15 and the pressure from his father became unbearable in the aftermath of the loss of the boat after poor-maintenance caused two paying passengers to fall overboard. The father’s descent, and his mistreatment of Jay, drive the boy to risky behavior that leads to his becoming entangled in a giant squid which is the prey of a large sperm whale hunting in the Monterey Canyon. As you can see from the Google Earth image below, Monastery Beach features ditches that slide into the depths. My PADI Open Water diving certification took place in the water off Monastery Beach. I had to enter the surf (backwards) in full wetsuit and tank gear, swim out past the surf line, sit on the bottom with my regulator in my mouth, take off my mask and my air tank and put them back on, underwater with my eyes closed. I passed and went on to dive the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.

Monterey Canyon and Monastery Beach

I went back to the area to dive several times including Monterey Bay itself, and have paddled the nearby Elkhorn Slough. The writing really captures the thrill and fear of diving and being on the water on that part of the coast. The marine biology in the book was a treat making it a trifecta of science-fiction, skillful writing and engrossing information. A delicious Christmas overall.

Not Too Old To Cut The Mustard

Not Too Old To Cut The Mustard

On the morning of my birthday I found a package from Peggy on my doorstep that contained a deluxe bluetooth sport headset I can use while jogging. This morning, I was delighted to discover more birthday presents on my front porch. I love my wonderful, generous sisters!

Travel-Themed Treats: France, Sicily and Morocco

Mary Rose sent me FOUR jars of Dijon mustard from the East of France, not far from Lyon and the Rhone River. A taste of mustard always reminds me of Germany. The lemon drops are from Siracusa in Sicily. Yum-yum.

Birthday 2023

Birthday 2023

Enjoying birthday celebrations this year even though winter COVID resurgence has tapped a few of my friends. Linda H. treated me to a yummy, festive, and expensive lunch at Willi’s Wine Bar and today Joyce is taking me out for dim sum. My kayak buddies celebrated with tacos in downtown Santa Rosa — Justin snapped this picture.

Downtown Santa Rosa December 2023

Shonda Rhimes “Yes”

Shonda Rhimes “Yes”


Shonda Rhimes was a guest on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s annual DealBook Summit and I was intrigued by her intelligence so I read her 2015 book “Year of Yes” when she forced herself out of her writing shell by accepting speaking and social invitations, learning to stand up for what she really wanted, and how to gracefully accept a compliment.

I knew about “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice,” and “Scandal” all being in production at the same time but Andrew Ross Sorkin pointed out that she had shed 150 pounds. Knowing, as I do, that the five food groups for writers are caffeine, sugar, nicotine, alcohol and fat, I wanted to learn more. I loved how she captured the nuttiness of TV production but the first three-fourths of the book has almost no self-disclosure. The photos start on page 233 and the good stuff follows.

She was the youngest of six to academic parents with a very strong marriage. Her older siblings are insightful and supportive and Delorse muttered, one Thanksgiving, “You never say yes to anything.” Shonda chewed on that as she realized that, as successful as she was, she wasn’t really happy. It’s nearly at the end of the book when we learn that she was engaged to a wonderful man that she didn’t want to marry and that’s when her weight started to really go up. By saying “yes” to telling the truth, she broke off the engagement and broke her pattern of suppressing her feelings with food.

Over the course of the year she discovered that healthy, kind people find each other and that some of her friends did not like how she was changing and growing. She realized they were not really on her side and she had to let them go. She explained, brilliantly, why it is SUCH a problem when people interrupt a writer who is in flow with dialog and story.

Five Miles

She describes “five miles filled with chocolate cakes, good wine, books I want to read, emails that have to be answered” and she has to get past this five miles every times she sits down to her computer to write. In the beginning it takes a day, or an hour, but it never takes less than 20 minutes to get past the five miles of distractions and get back into the flow. Even if the interruption is a well-intended, “would you like some coffee or water?” breaks the flow and she has start running again to get past the five miles.

You Needed Permission

At the end, Shonda explains to big sister Delorse how much the muttered phrase “you never say yes to anything” changed her life — saved her life. Delorse shrugged.

You did all the work, but it’s like you needed permission. I’m your big sister. I gave you permission and I’m extremely proud of you. You were joyless. All you ever did was sleep. Now you have completely transformed. You’re alive. Some people never do that. You are this happy because you said yes to not getting married.

Shonda explains that having it “all” is no guarantee of happiness, especially if what you want doesn’t conform. We spend our lives punishing ourselves for not living up to some standard we think applies across the board to all of us. The book is a plea to recognize that happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to.

Pathological Overconsumption of Food was Cured by Telling the Truth

Los Olivos and High School Friends

Los Olivos and High School Friends

Left home at 4:30 on a Wednesday morning to bypass SF and San Jose rush hour traffic on my way south on 101 to Los Olivos, just beyond Santa Maria. Highway 101 is so much easier on my 1994 Volvo than Highway 5 (in gray) because on the travel speed is a temperate 65, not the 85 mph demanded on the 5.

As I approached Salinas, daylight was just cresting above the Gabilan mountains to the east, a silver ribbon outlining the gray ridge, then trimmed by overhead rows of gray clouds of varying stripes. The Coastal mountains on the right grew brighter as the sun rose and I pulled into Salinas to enjoy breakfast at Dudley’s.

Salinas at Daybreak

After breakfast I walked around for a few blocks and admired the creativity of the Hallowe’en decorations in a downtown alley.

At 10 am there was no one in my lane for as far and the eye could see, forward or backward. The drive was beautiful and meditative, and around noon I stopped in Santa Margarita, high in the mountains and still shrouded in fog, even though it is just 10 miles straight uphill from San Luis Obispo. At about 3 pm I met up with my friends at the VRBO in Los Olivos and we visited some of the shops and wine tasting rooms.

Rocking my Moroccan Bag in Downtown Los Olivos Which is Three Blocks Long

I cooked up a quiche for our first night, and on our second and final night we visited restaurant Bar le Côté.

At Bar Le Côté: Regina, Jane, and Moi

Shopping at Garden Supply in Los Olivos

We hadn’t seen each other in ten years, since the 50th high school reunion that we organized. It was such a pleasure to catch up and to fill in the blanks about how we got to where we were. They spoke about what they felt when they visited my house when we were in high school.

Jane: your mother seemed like a child.

Regina: your father was handsome but very scary. Manipulative.

It was such a relief to feel seen and understood. Because I departed at 10 am, the Friday afternoon trip took seven and a half hours but I enjoyed digesting all the insights and camaraderie.

Great trip.

Tv Show “Bad Sisters”

Tv Show “Bad Sisters”

I subscribed to AppleTV+ to watch the new season of “Morning Show” and the premiere of “Lessons in Chemistry,” but the big find was “Bad Sisters,” originally titled “Emerald.” Brilliant writing, bang-on characterization of four Dublin sisters trying to help the fifth sister who is trapped in an emotionally-abusive marriage. And it’s funny!

Bad Girls Cast

Bibi, Grace, Eva, Ursula, Becka

It won a 2022 Peabody award and four nominations for Primetime Emmys and I am thrilled to learn that it has been renewed for a second season. Set in Dublin and shot on location in Ireland, it is based on the Flemish series “Clan” and was developed by Sharon Horgan who plays Eva, the eldest. Deeply Irish in the way it deals with the bad husband, it never considers divorce or trying therapy to get the physically-enormous-but emotionally-stunted man to grow up. The photo reflects that there is wine in nearly every shot as they are harried by an insurance firm run by two brothers who are secretly in deep financial trouble. It moves at a brisk pace and I loved that I could not figure out how it was going to end until we got there. Very satisfying.

Ferritin Update

Ferritin Update

I donated blood between my trip to Lyon, France and my trip to Morocco, and took a Ferritin test when I returned from Morocco.

In 2020 I learned that I carry the mutations of Hereditary Hemochromatosis. My first report flagged anything outside a range of 15-150 so I squeaked by with 150. I started taking milk thistle and cutting back on iron and I drove the Ferritin down to 26 by July of 2021 but I felt awful. I could feel that I went too low. I created this graphic that guessed at the ideal ferritin level.

The NYTimes just published an article explaining that hemoglobin measures anemia but ferritin measures iron-deficiency and that ferrutin levels should be between 30 and 50 icrograms per liter. They described iron-deficiency symptoms as:

Symptoms are often nonspecific and vague, like fatigue, brain fog, lightheadedness, sleep disturbances and a reduced ability to exercise.

When I got back from Morocco, my doctor commented on the new score of 116 and recommended a target level of 50, suggesting two blood donations before March 2024. The NYTimes article says tea and coffee with meals are absorption blockers. The problem with cutting back on meat is my effort to battle scarcopenia.