To paraphrase Mrs. Clinton, Don’t roll in stupid shit is a pretty good organizing principle

for dogs.

My sister and her family recently spent ten days in California and Oregon. I called them after they returned home, after our earthquake, after we had power, and I got my nephew. I asked how their new crazy golden retriever puppy fared while they were away.

He said, “He did okay. Didn’t do anything stupid.”

So I asked, “His philosophy is don’t do stupid shit?”

My nephew said, “No, his philosophy is don’t roll in stupid shit.”

Their poor deceased golden loved nothing more than to roll in stupid shit while eating it. She was a remarkably talented dog.

Jake never rolls in stupid shit. Although I am always amazed by the fact that a dog who has no interest in the delicious food I leave in his dish possesses such a voracious appetite for rabbit shit.

But there are times when I wonder why it is people do stupid shit around dogs. I recently had to take Jake to the vet’s office for a vaccination. Nowadays he’s very good at the vet’s. Lays at my feet, waits to be called, goes into the back by himself, gets his shot, no muzzle required. The girls like him lots. But still, it’s the veterinary clinic. No dog in his or her right mind wants to be at the veterinary clinic. So the smart thing is this – Don’t do stupid shit around strange dogs at the veterinary clinic.

The last two times I was there, a strange woman (two different women) went all squeaky on me, said, “Oh, he’s so cute…” because he is cute, and then approached him uninvited, stuck out a hand and asked, “Can I pet him?”

Jake didn’t move a muscle either time, but of course I said no. When each woman looked all sad and insulted, I added, “This is a stressful situation for any dog. It’s not a good time to meet strangers.”

Each woman said, “Oh, right. Yeah, sure. Sorry.”

Believe me, Jake is a cutie pie, and he gets all kinds of compliments, guys even honk when they drive by– guys in pickup trucks. They yell – “Niiiiiiice dog!” It’s pretty funny. Most of the time Jake is sweet as sugar. But he comes from a long line of protection/working dogs and he can be touchy under certain circumstances, like when strangers crowd me or walk right up on me unexpectedly. He might give a little warning back-off growl the way he did this morning when a woman and her Doodle walked right up behind us as I was opening the car door after our walk. She came within a foot of my open car door just as Jake was about to jump in. Because she thought Jake was cute and she thought her dog would like to meet him.

I give strange dogs space. Many dogs don’t like German shepherds. They just don’t. The sight of a German shepherd rubs a lot of dogs the wrong way, makes them defensive and although Jake likes most other dogs he doesn’t like all other dogs. I find it hard to understand why you’d walk right up on a strange German shepherd.

So… I told Jake, “Quit.” Said, “Load up.” He jumped in the car and I shut the door. I turned to the woman. Shrugged. “Sorry.” And I drove away. End of story.

Don’t roll in stupid shit around dogs. It’s a decent philosophy.

Here’s Jake this morning and tonight. I snapped a couple photos of the worst upended sidewalk in the neighborhood. Jake was enthralled, wanted to climb up and over but I didn’t want to risk him.

Upended sidewalk - this morning.

Upended sidewalk – this morning.

Jake climbing upended sidewalk.

Jake climbing upended sidewalk.

The cutie pie this evening.

The cutie pie this evening.



Aftershocks and After Effects.

We suffered four noticeable aftershocks this morning– nothing that sent us running from the house but the earth definitely made herself felt. The 3.9 aftershock was a biggie. Nothing fell but Jake jumped on the bed again.

We are lucky. So many homes and businesses are red-tagged. So many Napa residents still have no water and power. In the midst of a drought water mains are pouring water down the streets. Repair crews are everywhere and they’ve come from everywhere, but still– these repairs take time.

It’s only today, two days after the big quake, that inspectors have realized some of our bridges are damaged. They’ll be closed off and on, for months I suspect.

Napa itself is a small town. We know each other. Our kids grew up together, played sports together, we volunteer together. My sister asked, “Is there looting?” I laughed. “Of course there’s no looting! It’s Napa! A looter would run into his neighbor sweeping up broken glass. Or his daughter’s boyfriend, or his son’s baseball coach. Of course there’s no looting.”

Don’t mistake Napa for Napa Valley. Yes, we live in the Napa Valley but we are Napa. We’re our own small town and we like it that way. We are close, we are neighbors, we are friends.

Whenever I travel and people ask where I’m from and I say Napa, they inevitably ask– “Oh, do you own a vineyard?”

Always makes me laugh. No, we don’t own a vineyard. The vast majority of Napans do not own a vineyard but many many people work for and with the wineries. The wineries too are our neighbors and the owners are our friends.

Maybe it’s a lost art, but we Napans take care of each other. All our stories are of neighbors helping neighbors, volunteers cleaning debris, young people escorting old people to safety, doctors and nurses ignoring the damage to their own homes to help the injured at the local hospital. We human beings do rise to the occasion, don’t we.

We are grateful. The situation could have been so much worse. Streets can be fixed. No one was killed.

Thank you for your calls, your emails and your prayers. Now, pray for Browns Valley Market– our wonderful neighborhood store and gathering place that is a mere 200 yards from our house (as the crow flies). It’s a ruin. And pray for all the people still in limbo – house, business, jobs… waiting to see if they’ll have one.

Love, Julia


#earthquakewinecountrycalifornia and the Great Bobblehead Massacre of 2014.

Apparently the Napa Valley is becoming Earthquake Central. This is the second major quake we’ve suffered in fourteen years – both along the same basic fault line which runs, oh, within a half mile of our house.

We are so fortunate. The only lasting damage we suffered was a few dents in the wall where the crazy swinging ceiling fans bashed into it. One of the ceiling fans is broken. A lamp broke. One jar of raspberry jam flipped over and broke. Oscar was quite upset about this as I had only recently made the jam, he loved it, and it was our last jar. Otherwise all is well, which is both a miracle and a miracle of planning ahead.

Here is a photo of my friend’s kitchen:

Friend's kitchen post quake.

Friend’s kitchen post quake.

Aside from the jar of jam, which flipped upside down inside the fridge, we lost nothing. Not a single cabinet opened, nothing fell from the shelves in our pantry, not a bottle of wine was broken. After the last earthquake we made some changes. All our cabinets have catches which sort of prevent the doors, drawers and pull-out shelves from opening. Plus our pull-out shelves have lips two inches high on the front edge.

After the last earthquake (when my kitchen resembled the photo above) I ripped out all the shelving in our pantry and installed movable stainless steel shelving that has a lip along every edge. I placed baskets onto the shelves behind the lip with an added three inches of protection so all my canned goods and bottles, jars, etc. sit in the baskets. Nothing fell out of a basket. Not one thing.

We moved all our wines from wooden wine storage racks into a compact and sturdy wine refrigerator. Everything is a snug fit. No way is that unit going to spill a drop of wine, even if the entire unit tips over.

I moved everything away from our bed – no pictures above the bed, no ceiling fan– that’s for sure. And no mirrors! The one mirror in our room is securely anchored to the dresser.

That doesn’t mean things didn’t go flying. They did. It’s just that nothing of importance broke. I have these two amazing china cabinets. They contains all my grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ china and crystal. The cabinets have this ability to walk around during an earthquake. If we secured them to the wall, the glass doors would open and everything would fly out. Instead they just walk themselves around the dining room. I am the only person on our block to survive the quake with all my china and crystal intact.

Book shelves ended up all over the house, contents spilled everywhere. Yet every single piece of glassware, every picture, every cherished plate landed all by itself on the carpet or on a chair– in perfect condition. Our new roof held up as did the bolts that hold our house to its foundation. Truly amazing.

My youngest daughter’s bedroom was hit the hardest. A number of her picture frames were shattered and there was glass everywhere, but we were lucky. That was the biggest cleanup. My son drove in, bearing coffee and sandwiches– as we had no power and could barely even text via our cell phones (a cell phone tower was knocked down) and he helped us clean up. We were finished by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Unfortunately my husband’s San Francisco Giants bobbleheads collection didn’t fare so well. Catcher Buster Posey broke his right ankle. Seriously. Hard to believe but yes, the bobblehead broke its right ankle.

Buster Posey breaks his ankle again.

Buster Posey breaks his ankle again.

Tim Lincecum was scalped (among other things):

Tim Lincecum loses his hair, etc.

Tim Lincecum loses his hair, etc.

Aubrey Huff (from the 2010 World Series Team) looks like the Venus de Milo without a head and pitcher Madison Bumgarner lost his pitching arm. Yeah, those poor bobbleheads. It was the Great Bobblehead Massacre of 2014.

So remember – SFCDShoes/Flashlight/Cellphone/Dog.

Most of the injuries were caused when people ran barefoot over broken glass. I always kick my flip flops off next to my bed. We keep one flashlight in our bedroom and another in our kitchen. My cell phone is on my bedside table at night and the dog jumped on our heads right before the earthquake hit. (Smart dog!) As soon as we got downstairs I put his emergency collar on him.

You have to ride it out – don’t go running around like a chicken with your head cut off in the midst of a quake. (This quake was like the Indiana Jones ride times three without the restraints.) When the shaking stops get outside as quick as you can.

We all gathered in the court to take stock. We went from house to house to make sure everyone was okay and to check gas lines and water heaters. Nobody had any cell service — we couldn’t even call 9-1-1 so we realized we’d have to deal with any emergent situation on our own. Fortunately for our court the most emergent situation was the flood of swimming pool water – everyone’s pool had emptied onto the street in one big tsunami.

As soon as we realized everyone was uninjured, I went inside and filled every single container I had with clean water. Yes, we had water but I didn’t know how long we’d have water or if it would stay potable. Figured I’d err on the side of caution and store water while it was still clean. (I didn’t want to fill the bathtub because I often find spiders in the tub. Ew.)

So, the house is restored to normal, the cat came back Sunday evening, the birds were perfectly safe in their heavy steel cage, albeit they were extremely quiet as were all the night creatures– eerily quiet even the next day and night. We are lucky to have both water and now power – just three blocks away our friends have neither. Downtown Napa looks like it’s been hit by artillery. I’m staying away for the time being. Oh, and the grocery stores… the poor poor grocery stores. I don’t know when they’ll reopen.

I’ve been through tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The power of nature boggles the mind. We are so grateful to be alive and well.

Here are a few photos of our area~

Crushed cars.

Collapsed carport

Cars trapped beneath carport

Cars trapped beneath carport

Our neighbor's sidewalk.

Our neighbor’s sidewalk.

More sidewalk.

More sidewalk.







Sidewalk at the end of our court.

Sidewalk at the end of our court.

Exploding curb. (All over town.)

Exploding curb. (All over town.)

One of the cracks in the street.

One of the cracks in the street.

Hubby's study. He hated that lamp anyway.

Hubby’s study. He hated that lamp anyway.

P.S. Oscar has an emergency radio. He was so excited to use it during this emergency! The first time he cranked it up the crank broke. He was so mad and it was so funny.


My own, my precious. Die hard book hoarder.

Sure, I appreciate my E-reader. No doubt about it. My Kindle Paperwhite is convenient, the text of any document is easy to read– I can read books in record time. Flipping pages reminds me of water skiing. It’s that fast. I can adjust font, font size, lighting, look up additional information about a book or an author, highlight, use the cloud, subscribe to journals, even review, all from one lightweight flat tablet. And even better, it fits in my purse. Using an E-reader is a no-brainer. Easy as baking an emergency pie!

But I still love actual books for this simple reason — A book engages more of my senses.

It gives me great pleasure to hold a book, to feel its weight and heft in my hands. I love the aroma of paper and ink. I can tell by smell alone if the book is old and well-worn and well-read or brand spanking new. I am comforted by the sound of pages turning pages. The very act of turning pages is comforting, soothing, familiar… in the same tactile way Reiki is soothing. And I get a kick out of using the slate bookmark created for me and me alone by the slate shingle master in Wales.

I no longer buy new books. I don’t even bother to go to bookstores– which once upon a time were my weakness. Bookstores were my weakness. (It’s a pun. You won’t get it but ‘Oscar‘ will understand.) Who wants to spend mega bucks on books? Not me. Not anymore.

My new obsession is my shipping place. I’m there all the time, shipping stuff to scattered family members. The shipping place collects used books. Anyone can take a used book from the shelves. Done. Pay for your shipping, walk out the door with a free book or two. And the owner has an entire wall of used books, some quite old. To even out my karma, every once in a while I leave a few of my gently-used books. Seems fair to me. And since new books appear as often as books disappear, I assume most customers subscribe to the same generous sentiment.

I’ve found some treasures. Been reading up a storm.

Treasure Trove!

Treasure Trove!

I’m deeply engrossed in Ride The Wind, The Story of Cynthia Ann Parker and the Last Days of the Comanche, by Lucia St. Clair Robson– an historical novel about Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of the last free Comanche War Chief, Quanah Parker. Now I’d known the name Quanah Parker for simply ages, but I had no idea his mother was a white woman who’d been taken captive by the Comanche as a young child. She was adopted by a high-ranking family in the tribe. Ride the Wind is 563 pages of sheer bliss. It’s like a chimera of Winter Woman and Follow the River. (Look ‘em up.)

In the queue:

The Pelican Brief, by John Grisham– Grisham is always entertaining. I’ve seen the film, never read the book.

In the Heat of the Summer, by John Katzenbach. This book became the film, The Mean Season with Kurt Russell. I’m very much looking forward to the read.

Pandora’s Daughter, by Iris Johansen. Oooh. Chilling. Looks like loads of suspenseful scary fun.

Don’t hate me because I still love books.

Remember our fallen warriors.

I know it’s a fun holiday weekend. But while we’re off having a good old time, let’s remember why we can have a good old time.

Thanks for your sacrifice.

In gratitude.

In gratitude.

You want to hear a sad story? (Probably not.) When I was in middle school – 7th grade – a dear friend’s older brother, 18 years old, was killed in Vietnam, killed by a sniper. It was a devastating blow to our small, close-knit community where everybody knows everybody else. Right after our high school graduation, my friend married another one of our friends. He and she had three children. He died of a heart attack when he was 36 years old. He’s buried next to his brother.

I don’t often think of my high school days– I alternated between nerd-ville and wild and crazy. I graduated a year early, Doesn’t matter. I still remember the day Jeff learned his brother had been killed. I remember the shock I felt at hearing about Jeff’s untimely death.

Sorry to be a captain bring-down. Have a wonderful weekend, just take a moment to recall why we have this wonderful weekend.