Boating in Mentone Beach

Ever since I learned that David Sedaris spends up to 8 hours in day picking up trash along the roadside, I’ve dared to go public with my habit. I’m not as obsessive as David is but I figure that since I’m out walking my dogs anyway, I might as well carry a trash bag with me. The dogs are more than happy to stop to smell the news along the way while I clean up after people who are, let’s say, less fastidious than I am.

During the week I fill my bags and set them along the trail, and then on the weekend I ride my bike with the kiddie trailer in tow and pick them up. David either makes up stuff that makes for good stories about what he finds, or he has much more interesting neighbors than I do. My pickings are primarily beverage containers and fast-food packaging, but then there are things like an ice machine, a kid’s plastic tricycle, a spoiler from a car, a jet ski, and recently there was a boat, complete with trailer. Seriously! I’m not making this up.

This was too big for my bike trailer.

As I pick up trash, I wonder about what kind of person tosses his/her trash along the road. Jaime, the security guard at the complex at the end of the road tells me they’re just normal people. He sees them drive to the end of the road and shove their household furnishings off the back of the truck, or pull down their pants and squat to pee (or worse), or climb into the back seat for a quick tryst, or simply park and consume a six-pack and listen to the radio. This leads me to speculate on what their home life must be like if it’s preferable to do these things at the end of my street. I can conjure up whole back stories of these common folks and how they came to litter my hiking trail.

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Another activity that goes on in the dark of night, or at least when I’m not there, is spinning a vehicle in circles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfLzscs6LEA Evidence indicates that the gist of the game is that one circle an object, here it’s a derelict tire, churning up gravel and dirt, at a high rate of speed. I can’t really appreciate the allure of putting unnecessary wear and tear on a vehicle, but my great-nephew explained that “burning” is great fun. He explained that he had purchased five extra wheels just to put spare tires on them so that when one set was burned out, they could be instantly replaced with another set. The look on my face when he explained this to me must have conveyed my utter lack of comprehension because he quickly returned to working on his car.

I’ve made it my job to keep Opal Avenue trash free from the highway to the Santa Ana River, which is about 1 1/2 miles. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s proving to be a Sisyphean task, much like painting the San Francisco Bay bridge. Before I get to the end of the road, the part I’ve cleaned is a mess again. Whatever happened to the ditty, “Please, please don’t be a litter bug…cuz every litter bit hurts”?

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Survey Says…

The questions below are copied from muriopsis’ latest post which was from smlret’s “My Blog – Just another WordPress.com site” who took it from lifelessons, who copied them from another blogger. She suggested a simple cut and paste to a new post, adjusting answers to each question, and adding a link to the comments in her post A Different Perspective comment-reply@wordpress.com . I’m not normally fond of these “questionnaires,” but I’m playing along and would love to read your answers!

1. Do you like mustard? “Do you have any Grey Poop on?”
2. Choice of carbonated drink? Like Muri, I don’t drink carbonated beverages but back in the day it would have been Coke or Pepsi,especially with Mexican food!
3. Do you own a gun? Nope. I rely on my ever-ready, vegetarian-induced, eye-watering supply of flatulence…and my winning personality. I also have a Kunming Wolfdog who looks rather formidable and a Border Collie who is.


4. Whiskey, Tequilla, Rum or Vodka? Yo prefieroTequila! The more I drink, the more I become convinced that I speak Spanish.
5. Hot dogs or Cheeseburgers? No thank you.
6. Favorite Type Of Food? Whatever you’re cooking.
7. Do you believe in ghosts? Only long enough to enjoy a good movie. Truly, Madly, Deeply is my favorite ghost story.


8. What do you drink in the mornings? Cafe con leche, cafe au lait, coffee rich and aromatic with whole milk…or oat milk if I’m being good.
9. Can you do a 100 Pushups? Is there a time limit? Say a week?
10. Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall?? Yes! Spring, fall, winter!!! Summer not so much.
11. Favorite hobby? Well, that’s a no brainer. Mountain biking followed by lunch.
12. Tattoos? Do scars count?
13. Do you wear glasses? Yes, protective glasses, gloves, helmet, and knee and elbow guards.
14. Phobias? Nope.
15. Nickname? MFN calls me Jud to my face; heaven knows what they call me when I’m not around.
16. Three drinks you drink? Water, coffee, Milk, wine.
17. Biggest Downfall? I never learned to curse effectively. (I stole this from Muri)
18. Rain or Snow? Oh, it’s so hard to choose…
19. Piercings? I got my ears pierced at 16. I developed a metal allergy at 40. Currently my ears have closed so the current answer is no. (again, Muri’s answer)
21. Kids? Only the four-legged varieties and my husband.
22. Favorite color? Depends on the season but spring should always be green.
23. Favorite age? 40 – 50.
24. Can you whistle? Far better than I can sing, but that’s not saying much.
25. Where were you born? Holland, MI
26. Brothers or Sisters? 1 older sister. I’ve never outgrown idolizing her.
28. Surgeries? One, unless you count Lasic, then it’s three and oral would make it four.
29. Shower or Bath? Showering outside is an unparalleled pleasure but a languorous soak has its pleasures after a hard ride.
30. Like gambling? Depends on the risk/benefit ratio. If the risk is falling down the side of a steep hill, it’s worth the risk; if the risk is falling into a concrete channel, it’s only worth it if there’s an impressionable audience. Half the fun of mountain biking is taking acceptable risks.


32. Broken bones? None to date…despite the risks taken.
33. How many tv’s in your house? 1 but I don’t know how to operate it.
34. Worst pain in your life? I don’t dare divulge it here because it sounds too trivial.
35. Do you like to dance? Yes, I WOULD like to but others would watch and laugh…or cry.


36. Are your parents still alive? Both died in 2019. They were 95.
37. Do you like to go camping? I’m a fair weather camper. I like good weather and a comfortable bed in a secluded campsite, with a canopy of a million stars and only coyotes barking.

Please join in! These are fun to do and fun to read and remind me of when I used to blog on xanga. All you have to do is copy (CTRL+c), paste (CTRL+v), and change the answers to reflect your experiences!

Is it Okay To…

In this era of instant and seemingly perpetual communication, many people of my generation have questions about the propriety of actions that were formerly impossible. For you youngsters, “propriety” is an archaic term for socially acceptable or polite, neither of which seems very important in high society or low these days. I mean seriously, when a Supreme Court Justice has to admonish the highest elected officials in the land to behave civilly, clearly the lines of decent behavior have been blurred.

So, I’m dedicating this post to the rules of cell phone civility. Some of these could be considered rules while others are simply guidelines determined by the situation. For instance, is it ever appropriate to defecate in the bushes of the First Christian Reformed Church yard? The obvious answer would be a resounding “NO”. However, as the famous Emily Post once said, “What is necessary, is correct.” Sometimes nature’s calls are inopportune and a three-mile walk home with a drawer full can hardly be considered an option.

On to the burning questions that plague us on a more routine basis. Is it okay to use the toilet while speaking on the phone? If you’re talking with a member of your family who, without hesitation, barges in to brush his teeth, it’s a no brainer. It does get a little more complicated when the person on the other end is a stranger or your boss, especially when your boss is a Reverend as mine is! Generally speaking, I would suggest that you postpone your ablutions until there’s no risk of questionable sounds being broadcast. However, if the entity at the other end of the line has kept you on hold for such a long time that ANY normal person would be expected to have to relieve herself, the unfortunate customer service rep is probably inured to the sounds of “plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is”. Again you youngsters may not remember that was the ill-considered slogan of Alka-Seltzer back in the day.

Okay, enough of the scatological etiquette. I think there has been sufficient discussion of where and when texting or speaking on the phone is proper; and those who continue to jeopardize their own lives and yours, neglect their relationships, and give unconscionable amounts of their precious time to their devices, are unconcerned with good manners.

So, consider this: Is it appropriate to bore your victims, err I mean charm your friends, with images of your grandkids, dogs, trip to the buffet on the cruise you took to nowhere (yes, there are cruises that make no pretense of taking you to a destination, the buffet table IS the destination) and your weekly Fitbit report? Again, it’s situational but in general you should share no more than what used to fit inside a wallet, or about six. Now IF your audience shows genuine interest (superficial interest is common but genuine not so much) and pleads to see more, you might ask to see some of their collection before happily scrolling through your entire Google Photos account searching for that really cute shot of your cat playing bocci ball with a gopher.

On that same note, selfies present a quagmire of potential faux pas. It may come as a surprise to some of you that it is now a common practice for men to send photos of their genitalia to women with whom they disagree. I think I can safely say that it is NEVER polite to send an image of a penis in its relaxed state to ANYONE! Men, if you are intending to intimidate a woman, there is nothing less intimidating than your limp weenie. Having once been a young, adventuresome woman, I can conceive of a situation where you might think your member, in an interested state, would be welcome, but do remember the life span (far longer than your carnal interest in the recipient) of an image and its portability.

There are plenty of wonderful uses for cell phones but all of them come with the simple constraint that they not impinge on the senses of others. I forget who said, “Your freedom ends where another’s space begins,” or something to that effect.

Wagging Tails

A happy dog’s perspective of the world

I stumbled, half awake, to the bathroom this morning, trying to keep my eyes closed and my brain stilled so I could crawl back into my still-warm down comforter and pick up my imaginary wanderings.

Morning dreams are only remembered for the briefest moment though, as I’m immediately brought to full consciousness by two warm noses nudging me and two tails fanning the chill morning air through my diaphanous silk long-underwear. I wonder at the evident joy with which Molly and Sadie greet me every single morning.

Their greeting conveys that they expect only good things of the day to come. And indeed, their lives are filled with doggie delights: breakfast (oh boy, my favorite thing!); a trip out to the yard to smell who’s passed through during the night (how interesting!); a walk in the wash with exotic aromas of chasable creatures (mostly unseen but nonetheless exciting); a dog biscuit from dad who rewards us just for being so adorable; a nap, filled with dreams of chasing, barking, and eating; a ride in the car; another nap; dinner (same thing as breakfast but even MORE delicious than ever before); yet another nap while Mom clatters away on her keyboard; and then bedtime, perhaps the best of all as our peeps are all safely ensconced just feet away from our ever-vigilant (albeit sleeping) watch.

When I come home from work, I’m greeted as if I’ve been gone for days rather than hours. Though if you think of it in dog years, I have been gone for 2.04 days. I try to explain this concept to young, working people who contemplate getting a puppy. The modern idea is that you simply store the little guy in a crate and give him a bowl of kibble when you get home from work. Maybe he gets a walk around the block or maybe you’re too tired, busy, bored, or preoccupied to even indulge the mutt in what is the single most wonderful activity in his life.

Waiting

Deprived of socialization, exercise, and proper pack leadership, dogs become the opposite of what is expected of man’s best friend. I could go on for decades about how to be the person your dog thinks you are, but this particular post wasn’t intended to be about responsible pet husbandry. Rather it was to point out how a dog’s perspective on life could teach us how to be content. They focus intently on the good, praising it with wagging tails and quite literally $#!+-eating grins on their faces and sleep through the boring parts…dreaming of the good parts.

Whatever It Takes To Get You To the Top…and the Bottom of the Trail

A long-married, elderly couple were sitting companionably watching Judge Judy when, during a commercial break, the woman turned to her husband and asked, “When did we stop holding hands?”

He thought for a moment and then gently took her spotted, bony hand in his and held it tenderly through the rest of the show.

The next day they were washing the dishes together and she turned to him and asked, “Remember when you used to come up behind me and kiss my neck while I was doing the dishes?”

Taking the hint, he wrapped his withered arms lovingly around her ample torso and planted a chaste kiss on her wrinkled neck.

That evening, after donning their flannel pajamas, the great-grandmother said, “I used to love it so when we used to cuddle together and you would nibble on my…”

The old gentleman fairly leapt out of bed, scrambling for the bathroom. “What are you doing, pet?” she asked in dismay.

“Wait just a moment while I put my dentures in!” he croaked.

We were several miles into a relentless climb and my legs were complaining so shamelessly that Colleen, my super-fit riding companion could see the agony on my face. She fell in beside me and launched into this rather long joke. At the slightly weak punchline, she apologized for the bad joke but pointed out that I’d completely forgotten my suffering and we were now at the summit. There’s a reason I seldom ride with Colleen, the reason being that I don’t know many women who can keep up with her, myself included; but I was reminded today of how much fun she is, in spite of the pain she inflicts on us mortals.

That’s me in the bottom, left corner – two switchbacks behind the boys and Colleen.

Starting the new year with a group ride is almost a tradition and so, I was foolish enough to accept an invitation to ride with a group of monster climbers. The only other woman at my fitness level (still ten years my junior) was riding an electric motorized bicycle. This left me gasping at the back of the pack, pushing the biggest gear I could to keep them in sight. Nonetheless, it was a spectacular day and the company was good, or at least it sounded like it from the snatches of laughter and conversation I could hear from my distance and over my labored breathing.

I’m a firm believer that age and treachery are formidable tools against youth and strength. So, I felt no shame at all, when the young folks steered their bikes down the gentle, pure vanilla trail, I pointed my my own steed down an overgrown, outlaw trail that plunged steeply down the hill and intersected with the domesticated route they had chosen a couple of hundred feet below. At the intersection, I waited smugly, knowing that for the rest of the ride (all downhill) I would no longer be at the back of the pack and I had regained my trail cred. Ha ha, I showed those young whippersnappers!

Mecca Via Ropes & Ladders

My Favorite Niece (MFN) Tara invited me to join her hiking group on an easy hike out in the low desert near the Salton Sea. I was ambivalent about making the two-hour drive to get there, especially because she warned me that the dogs couldn’t go because the trail included some ladders. But, it was a dreary, overcast day here and I knew the desert would probably be warm and sunny and if I stayed home, I would just waste the day on cleaning the house.

Her hiking buddy, Gilbert, drove and the two-hour journey passed pleasantly with interesting conversation. The other hiker in our vehicle was a Frenchman, Jean Pierre, who went by his initials, J.P. because Americans can’t seem to pronounce his name. We met four other women at the trail head, exchanged introductions, and headed up a broad, gravel wash in search of Ladder Canyon.

Trail Marker for Ladder Canyon

Some reviewers of this hike had complained that the trails were poorly marked. We had no trouble finding this trail marker which pointed to the trail. The trail, however, was a little more obscure.

The entrance to Ladder Canyon

Ladder Canyon quickly slotted up and it became obvious how it got its name.

Jean Pierre showed us how the French descend a ladder
A view of San Jacinto Peak and San Gorgonio Peak in the distance
One of the many dramatically colored rocks
Snow white rocks
The easy walk down canyon

We thought the hike was over when we discovered Rope Canyon just before we reached the parking area. Scrawled on a rock at the entrance was a warning: “Danger!” That was all we needed to entice us to scramble up the canyon which immediately became so narrow that we had to take our packs off to squeeze through. Chock rocks of various sizes blocked our path, forcing us to either crawl under or scramble over. Thinking of Aaron Ralston’s ordeal of getting trapped by a chock rock that shifted under his weight, pinning his arm to the cliff, I was very careful about placing my trust in these unpredictable boulders.

Karen quickly gained confidence as she ascended the rope
My bright orange pack made a nice color splash
Kim scampers up like a spider…
while the rest of us await our turn
Tanya beams back at us
Making our way back down Ladder Canyon

Everyone made it through with nothing more than a little scrape and tired legs and all agreed it was probably the most fun hike we’d ever done.

Oh, Heck Yeah!

When the winter rains come to these parts, the riding gets interesting, and by interesting, I mean breathless, heart-pounding, white-knuckled FUN!

I’d pretty much given up riding the outlaw motorcycle trails in the local conservancy, not because they are illegal, but because since I fell and sprained my ankle, I was too chicken. Oh, I’d ridden some of the less terrifying sections, but I completely avoided the section that was my nemesis and some of the more technical ones as well. But after a rain, the traction was inspiring AND I was riding with “the boys”.

We climbed Three Hawks, a popular, hiking trail that demands enough technical skill to avoid piles of dog poop while navigating steep switchbacks. Being risk adverse when it comes to such hazards, I rode with extreme caution. The trail joins a fire road which climbs gently for a few miles and offers views of the motorcycle trail (MT) which follows the hog backs of the ridge. At each saddle where the trail drops down to the road, I examined the condition of the trail, looking for ruts that would make the steep descents too perilous for my skill level. It looked mostly good.

The bottom of “Backbreaker” looked mostly good.

The first section of the MT scares me. The climb just to get to the top of Zanja Peak is leg-burning, lung-busting, heart-breaking, steep. This terrifies me worse than a dog poop slalom. If that were the only thing against it, I might climb it, but the descent down the other side is commensurately treacherous. I decided to wait at the first intersection of the road and the MT while Mike, my husband, rode that section. This meant that I had to climb the second section with no momentum to assist in the effort. Joining Mike at the crest, I panted, “Whose idea WAS this?” And then the fun began.

Following Mike through the chest-high brush, the trail was rarely visible but at least I could trust that it was where I remembered it having been as indicated by Mike’s rapidly vanishing backside. All too soon, the trail, bisected by two axle-deep ruts plunged steeply back to the road. A really good rider, like Mike, would have released the brakes and allowed gravity to have its way, trusting the bike to ride the slick hump between the ruts to carry him safely to the bottom. I, being of weak faith, braked, which slid my rear wheel into the rut. I twisted my foot out of the grip of my Speedplay pedal, and dabbed my foot along the high side of the rut all the way to the bottom. “What a tourist!” I muttered to myself. And again, I had to climb the next hill with no assisting momentum. Mike was waiting at the top and kindly refrained from any disparaging comments about my lack of confidence.

The next section was my ankle-spraining nemesis. I approached the summit with some trepidation but Mike was already nearly to the bottom so I had little choice but to point the front tire down the rocky descent and keep my eyes trained as far ahead as possible. To my surprised delight, I found that there was a wide, fairly smooth (no rocks larger than a softball) rut in which I could comfortably track to the bottom. The traction was so sticky that speed control was easy peasy.

After such a boost to my confidence the subsequent hills, though steeper and probably more difficult, were only marginally thrilling until I came to the penultimate lock-em-up, slider descent to the road. I could see Mike waiting at the bottom and yelled down to him, “Where’s the line?”

He hollered back, “Follow my skid marks.” Sincerely hoping he wasn’t referring to any loss of bowel control, I let my bike roll over the lip of the granite outcrop, braking judiciously until it became obvious that braking was futile. I loosened my grip on the brakes, allowing the bike to straighten itself out, and I was instantly catapulted to warp speed. At the bottom of the short drop it was crucial to cut a quick turn to avoid running off the trail into the unknown. Self-preservation prevailed and I carved the turn and skidded breathlessly to a stop inches from Mike’s bike.

Next month I’ll be 67, but today I felt like a 10-year old.