Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

Category: Things that make me happy

A Thanksgiving Letter

by mollykl

Dear Secretary Zinke,

I spent this Thanksgiving morning standing in a river. The American River, to be exact, between the Howe and Watt bridges. I’d gotten up at 5 a.m., and waited anxiously till dawn. I made coffee and figured I’d use up some of the time making the cranberry sauce (might as well get that out of the way). When dawn came I was already in my boots and vest. I tiptoed into the bedroom to leave my husband a cup of coffee and whispered “I’m going fishing” to which he mumbled, “ermmm….have fun.”

I was feeling quite smug, thinking I’d have the river to myself, but no, there were already 2 guys there when I arrived. Another joined us soon after. I’ve been fishing for over 40 years, but only took up fly fishing about 2 years ago. I’m still pretty unsure about my casting, so I tend to stay away from where “the real fisherman” are – that is, the riffles by the Watt bridge. But this morning I waded out, and took my place. I grew up here, so my early memories are of travelling over the Watt Avenue bridge and looking out and seeing the fishermen lined up when the steelhead were running.

I stood in the water and marveled at the human invention that is neoprene and how could my feet and legs possibly stay so warm in this water? I listened to the hawks and kept an eye out for otters (they’re usually farther downstream but you never know). I remembered the story my mother once told about her disastrous water ski adventure.

When she was younger she went water skiing with friends on the Sacramento River where it meets the American, just a few miles from where I stood this morning. Now, my mother was not athletically inclined, but bless her heart, she tried. (She once ran over her own hand while snow skiing. She explained that skis used to be much longer so it was possible, but not likely. It took skill for her to manage that.) She gave it her all, but spent most of the day being dumped into the river. The next day she was so sick that a friend had to take her to the emergency room. When the doctor asked what she’d done the day before, because he could not figure out what was wrong with her, she told him she’d been water skiing in the river, and he immediately knew what was wrong. He told her to go home, and wait for everything to get out of her system, and to stay out of the river, because at that time it was so polluted that it made her sick.

This morning you would never know that this river , along with the Sacramento, was such a mess. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time on the American River Bike Trail, but I don’t remember ever seeing a hawk. Now they perch in my neighbor’s tree and when I’m at the river I never fail to spot at least one or two. When I take my son for walks along the river we keep an eye out for tracks – deer, coyote, and yes, the occasional, mountain lion. This river, and the region, have been transformed over the past 50 years. The river is clean and we protect it now.

You have a choice before you, the immediate or the lasting. The immediate is the cold, hard cash that can be gotten from mining rights to public lands or drilling in the Arctic. There’s a lot of money to made in selling out the public lands that you were intrusted to protect. And, in case it wasn’t mentioned when you were first nominated for your job, that job is to protect the Interior of the United States of America.

Your other choice is to be remembered. Remembered for having stood for our public lands. For saving them from those who would think that leaving our lands to future generations means less than a nice check today. The second choice is harder – you would have to stand up to your contributors, to the Senators that voted to approve your nomination, and to the President himself.  Teddy Roosevelt is remembered to this day, and revered by both conservatives and liberals, because he stood up for what he believed in – in our public lands and the incredible beauty of this country.

“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”
– Speech by Theodore Roosevelt in Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910.

You and I are lucky – as fishermen (um, fisherpersons?) we experience that mystery, melancholy and charm every time we’re standing in a river, throwing a loop, watching the water and waiting for a strike. Let’s leave it be, so that future generations can have those moments too.

Sincerely,

Molly

 

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Love letter

by mollykl

Getting to Davis from Sacramento, even far out east Sacramento where I live, usually takes 15-20 minutes max. Unless you go on a Sunday afternoon. Everyone is coming home from the mountains, so when you hit the causeway, where 80 meets 50, you’re in for the slowdown of a lifetime. 15 minutes became 50. I am not the most patient passenger, and getting cut of by a Ford Explorer who DID NOT signal only prompted comments about the possible size of his anatomy (which is why he had to buy that car). The husband made an annoyed sound. Not at the driver. At me.

We pulled along side a Greyhound bus (and Husband J said, “That’s a Greyhound bus. They still exist?”) and I instinctively put my arm over my belly. Because, you know, they could see down into the car and see that my belly was probably not as streamlined as I hoped it might be. For lack of a better phrase.

In that moment I travelled back in time. Over 10 years approximately, to about 25 minutes before son j was born. I was in the operating room, and after the third try (YES, THIRD!) the lead in anesthesiology yanked the needle away from his student and snarled, “Let me me do it!”. Finally, it worked and my spinal block was complete, and they carefully laid me down, and prepared to transfer me to the operating table. The nurse, whose name I never got, looked down at me, grabbing part of the sheet and lifting me against her belly, said, “That’s what I’ve got this belly for – it’s a cushion.” And she laughed. I laughed. I was fucking terrified out of my mind, but I laughed. And I thanked God for her belly. That belly, and her casual acceptance of it, saved me. She gave me something to cushion me, she gave me something to laugh about, and she showed me absolutely, unequivocally that her body was something she treasured.

As we continued on Hwy 50 I thought that this belly carried son j. It endured insulin shots, and bruises from those shots that didn’t fade for months. And I’d do it all again for him, even though every three days or so I’d break down in tears because I hated needles, so developing gestational diabetes was pretty much awful for me. Yes, I could probably be thinner, but on Friday I had a glass of wine (Murphy Goode Sauvignon Blanc 2015) sitting outside in the backyard and I saw a lizard! Seeing the lizard had to make up for at least an inch or so, right?

That nurse? She saw her body for what it could do, and she probably had no idea what she was passing on. I’m surrounded by young, beautiful women every day, and it can be hard, being 48 and a bit heavier than I would prefer. But I know what my body is capable of – carrying another human being, making it through the day. I’m appreciative of all that it does. It doesn’t look like the 20 year olds that I work with, and that’s ok. It looks like me, and I love all that it has done for me.

It’s damn time I started showing that.

 

10 Free and Easy Acts of Resistance

by mollykl

I know. It’s January 20th and some of you, well quite a lot of you if the popular vote was any indication, are feeling either angry or sad. Or angry and sad. And what I’m about to say will sound unbearably childish to some. Naive. You’re probably right, and if you want to write to angrily tell me off, I won’t argue with you. (Hey, if you’ve got an intelligent argument, go for it.)

But hear me out. I’ve spent the last month of so writing and calling senators and the Speaker of the House, donating to causes that I feel are worthy (SPLC to name one), and trying my best to stay informed while not losing my ever loving mind (cue the DMX). I don’t regret a minute of it, despite the fact that I have anxiety and calling was the hardest thing I’ve done. Also, I realized I talked to Paul Ryan’s office more than own mother for a two week period.

I’m not going to stop, but I can’t go full bore every day without (again, cue the DMX) losing my mind.

So here are 10 free and easy acts of resistance to get you through today, tomorrow, and the next four years.

  1. Go to the public library and get a library card. Take your I.D., you’ll need it for the card.
  2. Check out a book while you’re there. Read it. Congratulations, you are now more well read than the leader of the free world.
  3. Smile and say hi to a total stranger. This is actually an expectation at my job, and it’s my favorite. You will discover that not everyone appreciates it, but the ones who do make it worth the while.
  4. Email a Senator and tell them you support their vote on an issue that is close to your heart. If you don’t have a computer, see #1, because at many libraries you can use the computers and access the internet for free. It’s true that most elected officials don’t care about complaints from citizens not in their district, but who doesn’t love to get positive reinforcement, regardless of where it comes from?
  5. Listen to your favorite song. Mine is the Beatles “Let It Be” (which is funny, ’cause I don’t really like the Beatles)
  6. Send your favorite vegetarian recipe to your Catholic friends for Lent. If you find Halal lamb on sale, text your Muslim friends.
  7. Take a walk. If you can walk in a natural setting, great. Appreciate that you have access to it. If you’re walking in an urban setting say hi to everyone you meet. Stop to appreciate architecture, early blooming camellias, or animal tracks.
  8. Make someone laugh or smile.
  9. Tell someone you love them.
  10. Enjoy your life and live it every day. That is really the best “fuck you” in the world.

 

How to enjoy a cold (or flu)

by mollykl

Yes, you read that right. I am, after all, the queen of “on the bright side” so here it is, how to enjoy a cold (or flu…quite honestly I’m not sure which one I’ve got right now).

1. Take a hot bath. Really hot. And use A LOT of epsom salts, maybe a handful of baking soda and then as much bubble bath or oil and your little heart desires (just be careful getting in and out of the tub). I have a bottle of Dr Hauschka Spruce Bath that I horde as if it was gold and I think I poured in 1/2 the bottle. Totally worth it.

2. Listen to music. You’re miserable why not listen to something that makes you happy. Alternatively, listen to something that makes you enjoy feeling miserable. Want to be morose? A little Edith Piaf’s good for that. Want to be happy? Try some Ella Fitzgerald singing Christmas tunes.

3. A cuppa. Right now I’m loving cranberry juice mixed with a couple of heaping tablespoons of Manuka honey a cinnamon stick and hot water. It makes my throat feel better but tastes vaguely like mulled wine (without any after effects).

4. A good book. Or a bad book. Or a really awesome book. Is it a coincidence that Larissa Ione released a new book the week I got sick, or was it just luck?

5. Any Lauren Bacall movie. After listening to her you’ll be thrilled with your new “Lauren-esque” vocal range – she’s the woman who made that husky voice hot.

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland.”

by mollykl

But this is California. Central California, no less, which hasn’t seen snow since 1986 (or so J tells me), but when I lived in Spokane we saw snow. First big, real snow of the season, I’d find a comfy place to hide out, usually in the english department building, curl up nice and warm, re-read James Joyce’s “The Dead” and watch the snow fall.

Despite the warm sunshine and the absolutely clear blue sky it is December and if it’s hard to get into the reflective mood that the dark days of winter and the end of the year bring, well, then  Joyce might help.

Grab a port, or a scotch, and a comfy chair and a copy of “The Dead”, reflect on your mortality and the concept of grace and enjoy the snow falling softly and some of the finest words ever written in the English language.

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crocked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last, upon all the living and the dead.”

James Joyce

10 authors I think you should read

by mollykl

No, I don’t know everything, but yes, I do know some authors. Trust me, you’ll be better off having read these.

1. Madeleine L’Engle. She might sound familiar to you for A Wrinkle In Time (which, not coincidentally frequently finds itself on the list of most banned books). I’m a particular fan of An Unacceptable Time (the culmination of the time series) and A House Like A Lotus (which was actually my first exposure to M.L. )

2. Jane Austen. Oh come on, you knew this had to be on the list. Just read Pride and Prejudice. You won’t be sorry. If you’re one of the guys I work with who think Jane’s either too far above you/beneath you? Just read, and do everything D’Arcy does. Trust me. And then thank me.

3. Ian Fleming. Read the books. No, don’t say, “but I’ve seen the movies!”. Read. The. Books.

4. David Quammen. Want to know a little of the world you live in? Read David Quammen. The guy explains natural science in a way that any idiot can understand (and that’s this idiot’s opinion). You’ll have a better understanding of the natural world and a greater appreciation for the fact that you;re still alive in it.

5. J.G. Ballard. I’m a huge fan of The Drowned World, which is classified as sci-fi, but is really more about the psychological breakdown of the human mind. Also, it’s a chilling reminder that we never truly escape certain moments of our past – we just keep reliving them. (Oh, and please note that it’s about global warming – 50 years before there was such a notion as global warming)

6. Dorothy Sayers. What can’t that woman do? Her translation of The Divine Comedy is one of the most accessible ever done – it makes Dante’s concepts understandable (a feat, since most translators focus of the poetry rather and the context). Oh, and as mentioned to a couple of college guys I knew in 1987 who thought that Lord Peter was a bit of a ponce, “Hello, dumbasses? these girls are telling you, in detail, what they want. Shouldn’t you be taking notes or something?”

7. Mark Twain. The moment in Hucklberry Finn when Huck says, “alright then, I’ll go to hell” because he’s willing to sacrifice his soul just to be friends with Jim is probably the greatest moment in American literature we’ve ever seen. At some point, with luck, the country will realize it.

8. Robert Browning. Just read My Last Duchess. Read it several thousand times. I think I have. It’s beautiful and frightening and beautiful.

9. Antony Beevor . Stalingrad The Fateful Siege was a Valentine’s Day present from husband J. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…most girls get flowers or jewelry I get a book about 500,000 people dying in the freezing fucking cold). But it wa one of the best presents I ever got and one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.

10. Arturo Perez Reverte. The Club Dumas is amazing. No. Do not watch the movie version. I don’t care of Johnny Depp was in it. It is awful and has NO RELATION to the movie. Oh, and pay close attention to Irene. Also, it helps if you’ve read Milton first, but is not essential. In hindsight, having seen Sherlock would help also. You’ll understand after you read. If you don’t, give me a call and we’ll have a drink and I’ll expound. At length.

If you feel like commenting add your two cents and tell me who I need to be reading.

10 things that make a bad day better

by mollykl

I actually had a great day, but I know that is not the case for everyone, so here are 10 things that make a bad day better.

1. Yoga.

2. Shower (or bath)…(or water in general). Bonus points for saltwater.

3. “Thank you”  (this works if it’s being said to you or if you are saying it to someone else)

4. Food. Lousy food does not make you feel better. The poached egg salad at Plan B does.

5. Hitting something. People are wrong…violence does solve problems. Hitting a heavy bag makes you feel better. Sure your knuckles will hurt the next day if you’re not wearing gloves or tape, but your insides will feel better. (Driving range or batting cage also work)

6. This story about stray dogs saving a girl in Argentina from being raped. People frequently let you down. Dogs, not so much. Even if you don’t have a dog they make you feel better!

7. Trying something new. Book, sport, recipe, you name it. Yeah you might fail (see: me, knitting) but at least you gave it a shot.

8. Being grateful. Sure the day sucked, but at least it was above ground. My tomato plant actually has tomatoes on it. Husband J sent me a nice text.  The snarky meat manager bought me a latte.  Watermelon on sale! Son J tried to make me a Lego Bumblebee! (He knows B’s my fave)

9. Sex.

10. Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Season 4, Episode 5. The New Orleans episode. Filmed 2 years post-Katrina, this is the best tv going. I watch, and watch again, and then watch again. This isn’t a case of “there but for the grace of God….”, and it isn’t “well, things could be worse”. This is the good, the bad, the worse and the horrifying all in one.  Sometimes life sucks.  Pick your ass up and keep going.

My 10 favorite things about Sacramento

by mollykl

1.  The American River Bike Trail

2. the weather (yes, even when it’s 105 and I’m melting)

3. Tule fog

4. Delta breezes

5. the Sacramento River

6. the American River

7. laid back attitude for a capital city

8. the California State Fair at Cal Expo

9. Old Sacramento at Christmastime

10. McKinley Park/ Land Park/ Southside Park

The not-so-secret-garden

by mollykl

If you live in Sacramento you probably already know about the not-so-secret-garden at the Tower Theater.

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In a guide book it would probably be called “a gem” or something equally ridiculous. I prefer to use a phrase from Jon Stewart and call it “a moment of Zen”.

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It’s not fancy or intricate. It’s not pretending to be Versailles.

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It’s just a nice cooling spot to sit on a triple digit day, perhaps before or after seeing a movie. Maybe if you sit there long enough the Delta breeze will kick up.

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Let’s face it: when the triple digits hit we all have a moment of “why exactly do I live here?”

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Here’s part of your answer.

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Inspire(d)

by mollykl

a : to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration

b : to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on

 c : to spur on : impelmotivate

This year I turned 45. Yep, 4.5. When I was a kid 45 seemed ANCIENT, yet now that I’m 45, it seems…well, not so ancient. Yes, more than occasionally I feel old. When I look in the mirror and see the grey hair, or the lines, or feel the ache in my back at the end of the work day, or realize that most of my co-workers don’t know who Wings are (were).

 

I’m actually really lucky to work with people so much younger than myself. Yes, more than occasionally I roll my eyes at the choices they’re making, but mostly I’m inspired. Inspired by the utter courage to do the things that I always felt were, ahem, inappropriate. Inspired by the new things they throw themselves into (lookin’ at you B and D – and it’s a long way from Sacramento to Paris!). Inspired to get out of a rut and change their lives (Miss V).

 

There’s always a lot of talk about appreciating the older people you’re around, but what about the younger? You can learn just as much from them and be just as inspired.