Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Iron Mountain Hike

Looking east towards Cuyamaca Peak
The previously hiked Mt. Woodson (2894 ft.) is a sister hike to San Diego County's Iron Mountain (2696 ft.), known for its "rough terrain, spring wildflower shows, diverse plant communities, rattlesnakes, hot summer days, and large boulders." (Poway Trails Guide.) But in November there are no spring wildflowers, hot days (warm, but not hot), nor rattlesnakes. Iron Mountain is an easier hike, being both shorter (6 miles instead of 8) and less of an elevation gain. Its views, especially looking east towards Cuyamaca Peak (6512 ft.) are spectacular. The following photo shows our destination: Iron Mountain taken from about half-way up the trail.Iron Mountain
This next shot shows our starting point: Highway 67 and Poway Road.Looking back at the starting point
Vegetation along the hike is fairly uniform. It is still in recovery from the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire so new growth is all about the same age and size. Here is a prickly pear cactus with fruit.Prickly Pear Cactus
Finally, we reach the summit, where a picnic bench affords a luxurious lunch spot.
Scott and Paul at the summit
Next Entry: Moonset at Moonlight Beach

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Day

Lake Poway
When Thanksgiving rolls around, we typically start preparing for the Thanksgiving feast about a week ahead. Buy the turkey, decide on the recipes and menu, and plan our day-by-day attack. In this case “we” means my brother Scott, who many years visits us from the Boston area for Thanksgiving, and I. Both of us are eating in accordance with The China Study, but we will chuck vegan for the day on Thanksgiving. Interspersed with the shopping, chopping, shredding, grinding, blending (and other pulverizing-type verbs found on my food processor machine) are time slots for hiking and enjoying the warm San Diego November. Scott at Mt. Woodson PeakA favorite hike this year was the approximately 7 to 8 mile round trip hike to Mt. Woodson Peak from Lake Poway. This trail, located in the Mount Woodson Wilderness Area in northeastern San Diego County, is fairly rugged terrain, steep at parts, and provides beautiful views. The chaparral-type vegetation (manzanita, wild sage, yucca plants, oak trees) gives way to pine trees at the Mt. Woodson peak, the perfect spot for the mid-hike lunch and rest.

This year we provided support for my daughter Sara who ran the Silver Strand Half-Marathon on November 19th. Its ending point at the Imperial Beach Pier is a wonderful place to observe water life: surfers, sea birds, gulls, and occasionally dolphin!Dolphins from Imperial Beach Pier
On Thanksgiving Day we hosted the cousins, grandmothers, sisters-in-law, and brothers of the local Anderson clan. I was so excited to get the Cousins Shot (oft sought-after, but seldom manifested photo of all the cousins together in one place). Happy Thanksgiving!
Next Entry: Iron Mountain Hike

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fall from Grace and Carolina Fall

Hay Field
Returning home to California from North Carolina, I leaned back in my airline seat, closed my eyes, and listened to Neil Young’s Southern Man remind me of where I’d been. Well, sort of. I didn’t see Neil Young’s South, I saw WNC (that is, Western North Carolina) and its gentle land. Throughout the day of November 8th, the day following the midterms, I joined company with my Aunt Laura and Fiki, her friend and helper, as we celebrated as each seat was won, as the count tipped to the Democratic majority. We three women—a woman in her 80’s, a woman in her 20’s, and I—somewhere in between—we all celebrated the promise of change.

The irony is that the party of “Family Values” is being chastised to clean up its act. The people are tired of corruption! The people are tired of lies! The people are tired of hypocrisy. The people are unhappy with Iraq! And now, a new mandate has been issued: Get us out of this mess! Maybe the war in Iraq is finally being viewed as the fiasco it has always been. Lives are being lost, and we don’t really know why. Maybe we realize that you cannot fight an ideology. We cheered the exit stage left of Rumsfeld, we cheered for the House, and we cheered for the Senate. The Audacity of Hope. You will hear this again. Now we can hope that the 110th Congress can move forward and act. Now we can hope that the 109th Lame Duck does not do anything too lame in the last throes of its sad, sad life. Long live Hope!
Fall Leaves Seasons
Next Entry: Turkey Day

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on Bill Maher . . .

There was consensus! For a show that thrives, feeds upon, encourages, and demands controversy among its panelists, indeed, it invites guests who relish chances for partisan barbs and baiting, I witnessed bi-partisan nodding. The commonality was the acknowledgement that the Iraq War is not working and the Bush Administration is to blame.

HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher is a topical issue show hosted by Bill Maher, a political comedian. His show has a predictable format which sometimes yields humor (no one can be serious when Robin Williams is on the panel), sometimes rancor, and sometimes serious, thoughtful discussion. You may not agree with all of Bill Maher’s views, but, if nothing else, he’s mostly logical and extremely open to let people that he disagrees with present their far-flung fringe views, such as Sandy Rios, who was a Bill Maher guest on the September 22 show and stated that Americans have “earned the right to create military bases in Iraq” or Stephen Moore, a guest on the October 20 show, also here, who desperately tried to defend America’s right to torture.

Maher’s most recent show included
  • Andrew Sullivan a gay conservative blogger who has angrily denounced the Bush Administration for the Iraq War and resents Bush's “Family Values” that excludes gays;
  • Singer, entertainer, and activist Harry Belafonte, who mesmerized the other panelists with his stories of conversations with Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King;
  • Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey;
  • Harold Ford, Jr., a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee. His platform is against the war in Iraq (“We need to be honest about the war.”), he wants to help the middle class with health insurance and education, and he’s against tax cuts for the rich. He is against gay marriage, abortion, and gun control. He labels himself as a Tennessee Democrat;
  • Arianna Huffington, a blogger and liberal advocate. She was hawking her new book and explaining its title “On Becoming Fearless.” She confesses, “I was terrified [throughout her life].” She explains that the book is not about the absence of fear, but the mastery of fear.
And of course Bill Maher, an open critic of Bush’s policy in Iraq.

Consensus. Consensus. Consensus. Dare I hope this portends a change?
Next Entry: Fall from Grace and Carolina Fall